It occurred to me this morning that science fiction is really about the generation of meta-hypotheses. That is, the writer has a hypothesis about what the future will be like, and constructs a meta-hypothesis about the implications of his initial hypothesis being correct.
This is sort of interesting, because meta-hypotheses are important in regular science in terms of evaluating whether or not pursuing certain lines of research is ethical. In short, it's meta-hypotheses that create the current furor over stem-cell research and other controversial branches of scientific exploration. If one were able to prove or disprove such meta-hypotheses in absence of proof of the foundational hypothesis, it would provide a good heuristic for the direction of scientific research.