Wouldn't it be Nice? Moral Rules and Distant Worlds

Noûs 52 (2):279-294 (2018)
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Traditional rule consequentialism faces a problem sometimes called the ideal world objection—the worry that by looking only at the consequences in worlds where rules are universally adhered to, the theory fails to account for problems that arise because adherence to rules in the real world is inevitably imperfect. In response, recent theorists have defended sophisticated versions of rule consequentialism which are sensitive to the consequences in worlds with less utopian levels of adherence. In this paper, I argue that these attempts underestimate the problem they are designed to avoid—the worry about ideal worlds is only one manifestation of a deeper and more general problem, the distant world objection, which threatens not only the sophisticated revisions of rule consequentialism, but any view which determines what we ought to do by evaluating worlds that differ from ours in more than what is up to us.
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