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According to JaronLanier (), this is "an imaginary circle that each person draws around him/herself. [...] On the inside of the circle are those things that are considered deserving of empathy, and the corresponding respect, rights, and practical treatment as approximate equals. On the outside of the circle are those things that are considered less important, less alive, less deserving of rights. (This image is only a tool for thought, and should certainly not be taken as my complete model for human psychology or moral dilemmas.) Roughly speaking, liberals hope to expand the circle, while conservatives wish to contract it.
Perhaps people or communities can be roughly known by the extent of their circle of empathy. Brian Eno [considers] the extent of most people's circle of empathy in time as well as in space, and finds that it doesn't extend very far, even though our actions and decisions can have distant consequences.
Compare: [Dunbar's Number], [The Monkeysphere] by David Wong.