What’s in a hypothetical? Is it just some snobby professor’s way to an introduction on his/her first day of the semester? Or an annoyance sputtered from across the dinner table? Does it have any meaning? Is it meant to condescend listeners? Or, it meant to stimulate them? Or is it merely a way to stunt individuals on progressing towards the right questions?
According to Bryan Caplan, writer of blog post, “When do Hypotheticals Cover Their Cost?”, he states:
“Hypotheticals serve two radically different functions. Devising practical contingency plans is one such function. The other function, however, is to achieve intellectual clarity in a complex world. Pondering a hypothetical is fruitful as long as it serves one of these two functions.”
What does this mean? Does it mean all questions that do not follow these two functions should be discounted? Isn’t our too time too precious to be handling nonsense? If hypotheticals don’t provide answers to help benefit the public, is there a good enough reason to come to ponder them? What can we do to avoid those type of problems? I think Bryan Caplan is correct in assuming the validity of those functions, don’t you?