Importance, Value, and Causal Impact

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Many believe that because we’re so small, we must be utterly insignificant on the cosmic scale. But whether this is so depends on what it takes to be important. On one view, what matters for importance is the difference to value that something makes. On this view, what determines our cosmic importance isn’t our size, but what else of value is out there. But a rival view also seems plausible: that importance requires sufficient causal impact on the relevant scale; since we have no such impact on the grand scale, that would entail our cosmic insignificance. I argue that despite appearances, causal impact is neither necessary nor sufficient for importance. All that matters is impact on value. Since parts can have non-causal impact on the value of the wholes that contain them, this means that we might have great impact on the grandest scale without ever leaving our little planet.
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Archival date: 2021-09-28
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