In the previous chapters we saw the essential role that caring plays in human moral relationships and asked whether animals were fi tting subjects of human sympathy. Having established that humans can in fact care for
other animals, we must now ask how far our care must extend to the countless animals species with which we share the planet. Does the universal Noahic covenant mean that our care must also be universal and extend equally to all animals? We worked toward an answer to this question in the previous chapter with our emphasis on establishing caring relationships with concrete animal neighbors rather than with animals or species in general. I will suggest in this chapter that attention to nearness, or the proximity of the neighbor, also contains particular relevance for an animal ethic. The Samaritan in our parable was not “moved with pity” by an abstract thought of a distant fallen traveler. He could only offer the traveler true care after fi rst “drawing near” (προσελθὼν) (10:34). This chapter will proceed in two stages. I demonstrate in the fi rst section the important role that nearness plays in human care for animals as neighbors. I argue here that relationships of nearness provide essential order to human moral relationships with other animals. I argue in the second section that human responsibility for animals is not monolithic, but varies in degree according to the nearness of the animal to human society. In other words we require a taxonomy of nearness, to adapt Clare Palmer’s phrase, in which duties to wild, domestic, and pet animals can be established and differentiated.3 In this way I articulate two strands in which neighborhood with animals is understood: First, animals are neighbors in that they exist in relationships of proximity and encounter with humans; second, these neighborly relationships possess a historical quality that we can and should account for in our dealings with them.