I’ve been wrestling with thoughts about the utility and validity of using hypotheticals in debates…
On the one hand, they can be useful in refining the borders of a debater’s position - i.e. “you have a firm stance that you would do X in situation Y, but what about situation Z, which is similar to Y in some ways, but different in others?”
On the other hand, they sometimes seem like a dishonest trap - i.e. “you have demonstrated that you would (and actually did) reasonable action P in situation Q, but I want to present you with carefully-defined situation R, where no matter which way you answer, we will hate you”
- or in other words, “you say you’re not a killer, but your answer to the Trolley Problem clearly demonstrates the contrary.”
Where is the line? How, in an honest debate, do you recognise and deal with these traps? Does this even make sense or am I imagining a difference?