In one of his most infamous passages, Wittgenstein warned us that trying to evaluate the practical consequences of a very abstract rule is foolish because, for once, it is quite hard and, second, if we withdraw too soon we might miss on some useful applications. Instead, he advised to wait until its applications were eminent and only them, when the negative consequences become patent, refuse applying it that way and in those circumstances leaving open its possible application in other circumstances.
I always think about this principle when trying to evaluate very abstract theories of social ontology or ethics or politics. However, I know this attitude is quite unorthodox in academic circles and I wonder why. Perhaps the fear is that if we wait until the negative consequence is eminent it might be too late. The fear may be that if we adscribe to, say, an ontological conception of what it is to be human without worrying too much about its possible political consequences until the conception is actually brought to bear upon a concrete case, the conception might be already too theoretically entrenched to be stopped before it starts damaging real, concrete people. I wish I knew who was right.
So, what do YOU all think? How soon/late should we worry about the concrete consequences of our theories?