A Science of Concern

What is the range and depth of concern for specific others? This can be measured, calculated and converted to raw data. It has long been presumed that empathy is an important factor but the fact is that vegans remain minorities, the fact is that few people in the American South actively opposed slavery and the fact that nearly all gentile Germans passively accepted the deportation of their Jewish neighbors indicates that empathy is not particularly important in human relations.

The range of concern relates to how far the social concern extends, does it only extend to persons of an imaginary ”race” or members of an invented community, so-called ”citizens”? Does it extend to humans only with or without bias against certain groups of humans such as Israeli Jews and people without citizenship? If it extends also to non-humans how far does it extend?

The depth of concern relates to actual commitments. E.g. are you ready to refrain from killing rats? Sterilizing them to prevent overpopulation? Provide veterinary care to rats? Provide palliative care for old and dying rats? Feed hungry rats? The examples may seem shocking in today’s anti-rat social atmosphere but is actually the kind of issues that will come up in a post-speciesist society where the former Animal Industry is recognized as the by far the most atrocious chapter in human history.

A Science of Concern should not only comparatively measure the different ranges and depths of concern in different societies. Concern should also be measured in term of care for heritage (languages, nature etc.)

The history of slavery and the varying historical status of women in different cultures teaches us that the range and depth of concern may be extended in society through political activity, sometimes motivated by conscience and compassion and sometimes by sheer group interest.

A general conclusion to draw even before doing such research is that veganism as a mere consumer boycott is a good beginning but must be augmented. E.g. must open air agriculture and commercial forestry be abolished and citizenship, rights and freedoms extended to animals who are part of human society. The fundamental lesson is that the range and depth of concern is a social construction that varies from society to society, from culture to culture and from era to era.