The Immorality of Modal Realism, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let the Children Drown
Heller (Mark)
Source: Philosophical Studies, Vol. 114, No. 1/2, (May, 2003), pp. 1-22
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. David Lewis is a modal1 realist. He believes that the actual world is a concrete object of which you and I are literally parts, and he believes that other worlds are also concrete objects some of which literally include other people as parts. Merely possible worlds and merely possible people really exist despite their lack of actuality.
  2. One underappreciated objection to modal2 realism is Robert Adams's worry that modal3 realism would lead to moral indifference. No matter what I do, every ill that a person could suffer, someone will suffer, every evil that a person could do, someone will do, and every good that a person could do, someone will do. My actions can make no difference to the overall pattern of good and bad that happens to people. So there seems no reason for me to bother to do good rather than bad.
  3. Lewis responds by pointing out that for anyone other than the most extreme utilitarian there is more to moral decision making than counting up total benefits and harms, and that has seemed a persuasive response.
  4. It is the purpose of this paper to revive the Adams worry. There are some moral decisions towards which the modal4 realist must permit indifference even though we would ordinarily take it as obvious that indifference is impermissible.

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