Last week, I defended the usefulness of moral hypotheticals.  Last night, I dismissed trolley problems as “silly.”  Fenn, an Econlog reader, is understandably puzzled:

“Silly trolley problems?”

Wasn’t it just a coupla days ago you were talking about Nazis and
defending this kinda thing as the philosophical equivalent to
controlled experiments?

The reason why trolley problems are silly isn’t that they are hypotheticals.  They are silly, rather, because they’re not designed to have clear answers.  As a result, they fail to perform the key function of hypotheticals: clarifying complex moral questions.  And since literal trolley problems almost never happen, they’re of no intrinsic interest either.