Book Chapter

Act Consequentialism and the No-Difference Challenge

Holly Lawford-Smith, William Tuckwell

Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism | Oxford University Press | Published : 2020


According to act-consequentialism, only actions that make a difference to an outcome can be morally bad. Yet, there are classes of actions that don’t make a difference, but nevertheless seem to be morally bad. Explaining how such non-difference making actions are morally bad presents a challenge for act-consequentialism: the no-difference challenge. In this chapter we go into detail on what the no-difference challenge is, focusing in particular on act consequentialism. We talk about how different theories of causation affect the no-difference challenge; how the challenge shows up in real-world cases, including voting, global labor injustice, global poverty, and climate change; and we work th..

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