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Sentientism

Sentientism

By Jamie Woodhouse
Want a philosophy or worldview that's grounded in reality and has compassion for all sentient beings (mostly humans and other animals)?
Then you might find Sentientism interesting. It's "evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings."
In this podcast, you'll hear about "what's real" and "what matters" from a wide range of celebrities, academics, activists, writers - and interested lay people like me.
Find out more at sentientism.info/ or join one of our open-to-all, global community groups, like: www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism
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4: "Do you want a habitable planet for your children?" - Sentientist Conversations - Zion Lights

Sentientism

4: "Do you want a habitable planet for your children?" - Sentientist Conversations - Zion Lights

Sentientism

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86: "There's not a huge difference between how we treat farmed animals & how we treat people - as resources" Nandita Bajaj of Population Balance - Sentientist Conversation
Nandita is the ED of Population Balance which works to address the impacts of human overpopulation & overconsumption on the planet, people & animals. She is the co-director of the Fair Start Movement, which works on legal & educational reform towards a sustainable & just family-planning model. As faculty with the Institute for Humane Education, Nandita teaches a course “Pronatalism & Overpopulation” about the pervasive pressure on women to have children & the impacts on them, families, non-human animals & the planet. Previously, Nandita worked as a high school physics & math teacher & an administrator in both the public & independent school systems as well as an engineer at Bombardier Aerospace. She has a B.Eng. (Aerospace Engineering) from Ryerson University, a B.Ed. from University of Toronto & an M.Ed. (Humane Ed.) from Antioch University. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 00:00 Welcome 01:10 Nandita's Intro - Engineering to teaching maths/physics to studying & teaching at the Institute of Humane Education (animals, humans, environment) - Pronatalism: The pressure to have children - Population stabilisation 04:26 What's Real? - Growing up in a fairly liberal household in North-West India - Moving every 3 years. "Wired to desire change" - Following Hindu religious holidays & traditions - Transactional religious compliance: fear-based & conditional - Tribalism & superstition "It didn't make a lot of sense to me" - Moving to Canada - Becoming non-religious was fairly straight-forward - Dabbling in self-discovery & studying psychology: Realising "These pieces of my identity were for the most part socially constructed" - De-constructing values & beliefs "Who I was made to believe I was was very limited & finite & self-serving." Reputation, wealth, success, family - "What motivates me deeply?" rather than "what do people expect of me?" - Exploring eastern & western philosophy - "There is this deep reverence that I hold - not for a god... but for the entire evolutionary process" "There seems to some kind of a kind of miraculousness to it" - Interconnectedness, scale, deep time, human humility - "There is something much bigger going on." Mystery - driven by science - but not limited to evidence, because there may be things we'll never have evidence of - Evidence might be limited but that's not an excuse for "making stuff up" - How supernatural beliefs can warp compassionate ethics 22:18 What & Who Matters? ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Come join us there! Thanks Graham.
01:15:32
November 30, 2021
85: "If you have experienced suffering you're aware of its badness" - Philosopher Michael Huemer - Sentientist Conversation
Michael Huemer (@FakeNousBlog) is a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. He is the author of more than seventy academic articles in epistemology, ethics, metaethics, metaphysics, & political philosophy, as well as eight amazing books that YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY BUY including Skepticism & the Veil of Perception, Ethical Intuitionism, The Problem of Political Authority, Approaching Infinity, Paradox Lost, & Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism. He blogs at fakenous.net. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 00:00 Welcome 01:31 Mike's Intro 02:20 What's Real? - Reading bible stories at 5 yrs old & declaring "This is stupid!... I don't believe in god" - "all the major religions are false... incredibly implausible" - Bible & other religious texts: "just so obviously the sort of things a primitive human would write"... obsessed w/sex, different human tribes - "If I'd created a universe containing 100 bn galaxies... I don't think I'd be obsessed with this particular tribe of humans" - "God in traditional religions doesn't even seem like a decent person, let alone the greatest... If he was a human we'd have to lock him in jail"  - Mike's "Scary Bible Quotes" page - Jesus contradicting the Old Testament - Atheism to agnosticism. "There could still be a creator". Fine tuning - Intelligent design, multiverse, anthropic responses - Methodological naturalism & metaphysical naturalism - "I don't even really know what supernatural means" - "There can be natural things that are beyond our understanding" - "I think I'm conscious & I don't think my consciousness is physical"... many naturalists say that's not naturalism - Direct realism: "You should assume that things are they way they seem unless you have specific reasons for thinking otherwise". Most people who object don't know what it is. "The main problem is people refuse to listen." 23:52 What Matters? - "It was always bizarre that people thought you needed religion in order to have ethics" - Divine Command Theory: "The boss is going to mess you up". That's not ethics - What does "where does ethics come from?" even mean? Where did numbers come from? - "We thought about it - then it was obvious" - "If you've felt pain you're going to notice that it's bad" - The is/ought gap "is supposed to be between such & such is painful & such & such is bad" - "If you have experienced suffering you're aware of its badness" - "In a way I'm following what I thought when I was a small child" ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Come join us there! Thanks Graham.
01:21:03
November 23, 2021
84: "Nobody likes hypocrisy but we're all hypocrites" - Dr. Brian Earp - Sentientist Conversation
Dr. Brian Earp (@briandavidearp) is Associate Director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics & Health Policy & a Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. His work is cross-disciplinary, following training in philosophy, cognitive science, psychology, history & sociology of science and medicine, & ethics. He has written extensively on resisting traditional & religious justifications for causing harm – particularly to children through genital mutilation / circumcision. He wrote the book "Love Drugs" w/Julian Savulescu. Brian is also a professional singer & actor. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 02:00 Brian's Intro - Academically trying to understand the world & lay out how it should be. 03:04 What's Real? - Growing up in Seattle in a Free Methodist Evangelical Christian society - Mum: Christianity & god. Dad: A more naturalist perspective - "Evolution was something that might tempt us away from the path of righteousness" - Unthinkingly accepting Christianity at first - Asking questions of the pastor at 12/13 yrs. Is it fair to send people to hell who have never even heard of Jesus? - The problem of evil... while being emotionally sensitive to the pain of others - Taking "a very serious concern with morality" from mum's Christian worldview even as a kid - Divine command theory: things are right/wrong because god says so - Agnostic re: metaphysics: "What do you mean by god?" - The burden of proof is on the claimant... "Wow - how are you confident about that?" - Bible college vs. secular Yale - Studying philosophy at college - The fundamental fact claims fell apart - Ethical concerns: religious homophobia etc. The tension between strict religious rules & personal compassionate intuitions "something has to go here!" - "Unless I have an independent reason to believe one view over another..." 15:37 What Matters? - Supernatural worldview risks to universal compassion - Can compassion go too far? Undermining justice/fairness? - Agnostic about the grounding of ethics / meta-ethics - Instead a Quinian web of beliefs & intuitions I'm pretty darn sure about: "Needless suffering of an innocent person"... "Treating people differently without reason"... "concern for the disadvantaged / those without power or representation" then reasoning about cases - "We should believe what we have best reason to believe" ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Come join us there! Thanks Graham.
58:15
November 14, 2021
83: “If I can open my mind about veganism… I can do anything… it was so liberating” - Jamila Anahata of the Afro-Vegan Society - Sentientist Conversations
Jamila (thesoulfulveganista.com & @Jamila_Anahata) is an activist, blogger & holistic lifestyle coach. She is aso Marketing Director of the Afro-Vegan Society. Sign up for their NAVCON2021 summit on Nov 13th - open to all!. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 01:12 Jamila’s Intro - Soulful Veganista & the AfroVegan Society - Community, creativity, connection to resist oppression and help others - "All the isms & justices". Veganism, racial justice / food justice / climate justice... - AVS: Veganism through a black lens 02:45 What’s Real? - Growing up in Maryland in the Southern US - Raised Southern Baptist Christian. Bible study, daily church, Sunday service - "I used to down religion... that industry" - The church as a powerful community for black southern people... "throwing our pain at the altar" - Experiencing deep racism... beyond bias - A hunger for something beyond the suffering of "this realm" - "I was always a gothy kid... a punk kid" - "3 seconds after I went vegan I decided I wasn't going to be Christian any more" - "If I can open my mind about veganism... I can do anything... it was so liberating" - Leaving religion because of evidence, ethics or rebellion - "My dad is a natural activist... he reminds me of Malcolm X" - Learing the painful history of Christianity - Not wanting to support the religion or animal product industries - Empathy as a moral compass. I didn't need religion for that - Keeping the compassion & community - Looking within for ethics - Spirituality. Connection & oneness - "There's more to life than my own suffering or flourishing" - Languages, class, religions, castes, hierarchies, status & how they separate us - "I swiped away all the titles" - Eckhart Tolle - "I am not what they think I am... I am divinely guided" - "If we wiped away all the oppressive things from Christianity that's what we'd be left with" - "I feel like I receive intuitive messages from my spiritual team" - Scepticism & believing in science... but that can't be all there is - Other planes or dimensions - "I was that faith based person where science was the enemy" - "This pandemic helped me... I learned that medicine is OK..." - Believing in 'what is' doesn't make me a less of a spiritual person - Naturalism on this plane, spiritualism for the others? ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Come join us there! Thanks Graham.
01:10:48
November 9, 2021
82: "It's the greatest transformation in human history... Who wouldn't want to be part of that?" - Dr. Sailesh Rao of Climate Healers - Sentientist Conversations
Dr. Sailesh Rao (climatehealers.org) is Founder & Exec Dir of Climate Healers, a non-profit working to heal the climate. After a glittering career in tech he switched to focus on solving our environmental crises. Dr. Rao is the author of two books, Carbon Dharma & Carbon Yoga, & is an Exec Producer of several documentaries including, The Human Experiment (2013), Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014), What The Health (2017), A Prayer for Compassion (2019) & They’re Trying to Kill Us (2021). In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 01:14 Dr. Rao's Intro - from India to the US, from tech to saving the world! - Growing up in a Hindu family in Chennai, India - "God is in charge & you are just an instrument" vs. the materialism of engineering training - Being inspired by the moon landing - Landing his dream job at Bell Labs - Starting a consulting firm creating the high-speed internet - "I had achieved, but I wasn't happy" - Frustrations with commercialisation & cut-throat competition - Seeing Al Gore talk about climate change... "If half of what he's saying is true I'm wasting my time" - Jumping to work on climate change "the biggest systems change around" - Being trained by Al Gore to take the message out - Asking Al Gore "If we take all the land we're currently using for raising animals & turn it back to forest can we not reverse climate change?" but he didn't want to talk about it - Starting Climate Healers 07:23 What's Real? - Becoming disillusioned with religion "This is poor work if God's in charge" - "We're the only species that's a mistake on this planet" - Visiting a sanctuary forest "I felt this sense of perfection"... "We did nothing... we gave it back to the animals... make sure no human being comes inside" - "My granddaughter was born... I felt as if I was holding humanity in my arms"... "I belong exactly as I am... you are a fool!" - Writing "Carbon Dharma" & "Carbon Yoga" - "Any 5 year old can tell you... be kind to all life" - Transforming from caterpillar to butterfly - "We are the climate regulating species" - Fire, weapons, partnerships with animals... then fossil fuels - Be a caretaker species, not a predator species - "If you insist on being a narcissistic predator species you're going to die" - "My granddaughter brought me back to faith" - "We're here to serve the animals not to eat them" - "The evidence... is that the Bhavadgita is actually correct" ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Come join us there! Thanks Graham.
01:18:48
November 4, 2021
81: "Ethical value flows from reality" - Pablo Perez Castello - Sentientist Conversations
Pablo (@PabloPCastello & on LinkedIn) is a Research Assistant at the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law & a Junior Fellow of the Animals & Biodiversity programme of the Global Research Network (GRN) think tank. He is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway (UoL). His research in Philosophy focuses on understanding the importance of human language in producing human dominion over animals. He also investigates the role animal language can play in relation to the participation of animals in political decision-making processes & the construction of zoodemocratic systems. His interests include ecofeminism, postcolonialism, critical race theory, critical disability studies, animal law, conservation, continental philosophy & critical animal studies. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:30 Pablo's Intro - interdisciplinary, intersectional research re: human & non-human animals, their languages & potential zoodemocracy. 3:51 What's Real? - Born into an atheist family - Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" & the mystical sense of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky - "Becoming sensitive to a dimension of reality that I thought had been hidden to me" via Wittgenstein's early work - Are poetry, music, arts & feeling beyond science even while they are aspects of reality (not the mystical)? - Being grounded in our embodied existence (ecofeminism) - "Ethical value flows from reality"... "Sentience matters because it is real... there are beings that actually suffer" - Interests, preferences & relationships are grounded in who those beings are - Derrida's "The Animal That Therefore I Am." What is it like for a cat to see me naked?! - Alterity. Appreciating the "other" in their own terms. Levinas - Science & naturalism & personal experience - Feminist thought & context - Language, categories, relations, community & power - "Western" binaries. Those w/without reason. Barbarians & the civilised. - Are relations & communities & cultures reducible to patterns of info proc in the minds of sentients? - Is the bond between cow & calf intrinsically valuable, or are the relationships reducible to the individual cow & calf? - Science & scientism - Claire Jean Kim's "Dangerous Crossings". Understanding different actors' positionality - including our own. Ethic of mutual avowal ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Come join us there! Thanks Graham.
01:38:07
October 30, 2021
80: Healthy Planet radio show on Sentientism with Bob DiBenedetto - cross-post bonus episode
Healthy Planet is hosted by Bob DiBenedetto. His WUSB radio show aims to help people learn about the powerful effect our everyday choices can have in creating a healthy and compassionate world. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook.
01:00:24
October 25, 2021
79: "'I love what you do for me' - isn't love!" - Cat Besch - Vietnam Animal Aid & Rescue Founder - Sentientist Conversation
Cat (@CatBeschVN) founded and leads Vietnam Animal Aid & Rescue. She is also a writer & activist addressing many non-human animal issues. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:10 Cat's Intro - Founding Vietnam Animal Aid & Rescue - Growing up in Virginia, USA - Studying International Relations in Washington DC - A political/military family 3:10 What's Real? - Growing up as a liberal Lutheran with very religious parents - The church as social fabric - Figuring out that "I just don't really believe in any of that crap" - High school & Baptist society in Alabama - The church seeing all sex as shameful... "holding virginity in such high esteem" - Feminism & Islam. "Headscarves & Hymens" by Mona Eltahawy.  - "The way the institutions look at sex & sexuality just makes you want to put your fist through a wall" - "A whole bunch of girls that think they're going to hell" - That was the turning point. Everything started to crumble - Not picking at the church too hard as it was the social fabric. "Life is hard enough at 16." I left it silently on my own - The hypocrisy of religious compassion & judgementalism - Atheists & agnostics are not immoral people - "I attended church... I took communion... my sins are flushed... now I can go back to being a dickhead" - Religious compassion is often conditional & constrained - The immorality of even "moderate" religious worldviews (e.g. hell, sexism, homophobia) - "Women are not emotionally stable enough to be leaders in the Catholic church"! - "I found it oppressive." Leaving the church was a moment of liberation - Travelling & living in many religious cultures - Starting the "Let's not be an asshole" religion - Being wrong. "I used to hate vegans", now I'm "on the side of all sentient beings" - Everybody has a chance to change - "I just don't know" as a strong naturalistic stance 25:09 What (& Who) Matters? - An early empathy for animals "they were my best friends", but living in an environment where killing sentient beings was normal - I never met a vegan in the horse riding world - "I love what you do for me" isn't love - Being angry at our previous selves for not seeing - Thinking all vegans must be "dirty hippies" - Meeting first vegans hosting couch-surfers in Mongolia - Being challenged "You love animals but who are you eating?" ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Thanks for the post-prod Graham.
01:28:34
October 25, 2021
78: "A whole new relationship with non human animals that will blow people’s minds!" - Jonina Turzi - Sentientist Conversation
Jonina (@JoninaTurzi) is cofounder of Lancaster Farm Sanctuary, a volunteer district leader for HSUS, & a doctor of physical therapy & yoga educator. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:24 Jonina's Intro - Lancaster Farm Sanctuary, physical therapy, yoga teaching, sobriety, queerness 2:33 What's Real? - Hippie parents, social justice, civil rights - Catholic father & schooling, more cultural than doctrinal - Brethren Church family history - Parents with a spiritual appreciation without buying into religious doctrine - Feeling the freedom to explore "I just want you to be happy" - "It felt like a human construct" - Identifying as an atheist as a teenager - Finding a beauty in the human body (& a sense of spiritual meaning) through an anatomy class - Being bullied, as a "young queer kid", by members of "Youth for Christ" - "I have no idea what's real" - The lower & upper case "Self" in some Yoga practice - Some things might always be unknowable - Reverence, wonder & awe... openness 17:10 What (& who) Matters? - Oneness & interconnectedness - Unnecessary harm to sentient others - Might plants have a kind of sentience? "I'm OK with saying we shouldn't harm plants unnecessarily" - Seeing the similiarities between human and non-human animals through physiology - "The idea that non-human animals aren't sentient is so bizarre to me" - Movement & intent as indicators of sentience - Are Roomba's sentient? - Evolution, behaviour/comms, information processing as inferential evidence for sentience - Intrinsic & instrumental value - The ethical dangers of holistic/ecocentric thinking - "Spirtual Bypassing"... rushing to find a purpose/meaning/spiritual goal while bypassing compassion & understanding - Knowing very spiritual people who also own factory farms - A local factory farm with a Bible verse written on it - "The foundation of a spiritual practice is caring for others" - Stages of moral development: Ego, ethno, anthropocentric... 37:30 Vegetarian to vegan - Rebelling against Jonina's mother's vegetarianism as a teenager - Being vegetarian. Not understanding dairy - Seeing slaughterhouse footage & going vegan together with Jonina's partner - Social indoctrination re: animal ethics & the supernatural - Climate change - The relationship between scarcity & morality. Is it harder to be moral under scarcity? ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Thanks for the post-prod Graham.
01:07:34
October 13, 2021
77: Rod Graham's "Being" - cross-post bonus episode on Sentientism
This episode is a bonus cross-post from Rod Graham's Being series on YouTube where I talked to Rod about Sentientism. You can watch the video of our conversation on his channel here. Check out and subscribe to Rod's channel and give him a follow on Twitter. I hope you enjoy our conversation! As ever, this is my personal perspective so many other Sentientists will disagree - while still agreeing on "evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings." Sentientism: sentientism.info Sentientism Facebook (all welcome) 📺https://www.youtube.com/c/Sentientism
01:05:13
October 5, 2021
76: Humanism will Evolve into Sentientism - Peter Tatchell - Sentientist Conversations
Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell & petertatchell.net) has been an activist for human rights, democracy, LGBT+ freedom and global justice since 1967. Watch the Netflix documentary about his life, "Hating Peter Tatchell". He directs the Peter Tatchell foundation (petertatchellfoundation.org). In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on Youtube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:10 Peter's Intro - a lifetime of activism - Teenage campaigning: indigenous rights, death penalty, Vietnam war - A wide spectrum of campaigns: LGBT+ rights, social justice, free speech, Balochistan, West Papua 3:07 What's Real? - Growing up in Melbourne in 1950-60s under a right-wing government - Evangelical Protestant Christian Bible literalist parents - "You take what your parents say, usually, to be what is right" - Studying science at school & starting to question - Being horrified at 11 yrs hearing about the racist bombing of a black church in Alabama - Black civil rights & Martin Luther King & Liberation theology - "If god is omnipotent, why does evil happen?" - Teaching Sunday School at 16 - Being told evolution was a "satanic theory" by abusive step-father - Dropping the hateful, vengeful old testament god & holding on to more compassionate new testament values - Homosexuality was still a criminal offence in 1969 - "I was genuinely afraid that if I came out, they [my parents] would turn me in to the police" - "For both of them, homosexuality was a terrible, mortal sin - almost on a par with murder & rape" - How Peter's mother has come to support LGBT+ rights - Becoming an atheist & humanist at ~20 19:10 What & Who Matters? - Still holding to some of the compassionate values of Christianity, but those values aren't exclusive to religion - Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Global, not "western" - Human rights are evolving & expanding. Yet to extend to LGBT+ / disability - AI/robot rights? Peter's 1970's degree dissertation on cyborg sentience & rights - Pre-human proto-morality - Looking after the family cow at 9 yrs old. Seeing the cruelty of circuses/zoos at 10. - "I knew they had feelings... but I never thought they had rights" - Being revolted by seeing chickens being killed "but I was still eating the meat" - Considering non-human animal rights in the 1970-80s & reducing animal product consumption - "Other animals are sentient beings - they have feelings" ...and much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join Peter on our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Thanks for the post-prod Graham.
01:05:54
September 22, 2021
75: Should Stoics be vegan? - Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci - Sentientist Conversation
Massimo (figsinwinter.blog & @mpigliucci) is Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He co-hosted the Rationally Speaking Podcast & was the editor in chief for the magazine Scientia Salon. He is an outspoken critic of pseudoscience & creationism & an advocate for secularism, science education & Stoicism.  In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on Youtube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:10 Massimo's Intro: Evo bio to philosophy 1:40 What's Real? - Growing up in Rome, "Catholic by default" - Accepting the christian world view, but questioning it early. The Trinity, transubstantiation - At communion: "It doesn't taste like human flesh" - Adopting secular humanism & turning to science & philosophy - The limitations of secular humanism: "When it came to real crises in my life... secular humanism was not very useful... it doesn't help me to think in terms of human rights when my father is dying" - Stoicism as a practical philosophy of ethics & how to live a meaningful life - Hume & Russell - Some of the commandments "seem a little narcissistic & self-centred coming from a god" - Jesus seems like a good guy but the Catholic church has taken some awful political positions over the centuries & today - Not blaming Jesus but instead blaming patriarchal forces inside & outside religion - Antivaxx, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine - "I don't believe that any unfounded belief is harmless, ultimately" - The attitude of taking unfounded beliefs seriously crosses boundaries easily. Jumping from one mystical or conspiracy theory to another - Hume "A reasonable person proportions his belief to the evidence"  - Faith as belief without evidence - The ony thing you don't want to do without belief is go to 0% or 100%. Bayesianism - Carl Sagan's It's nice to have an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out - Don't ask "is it possible?" ask "how likely is it to be true?" - The risk of dogmatic attitudes even amongst skeptics - People don't like being told they're idiots - Even a religious/supernatural worldview with modern ethics still presents a risk - When religious authority conflicts with compassionate ethics - As a secular humanist can disagree with Sagan or Seneca. As a Christian person I can't disagree with god or Jesus 21:21 What & Who Matters? - The Tolstoy fallacy "Unless there is a god you might as well go around murdering and raping" - Naturalistic ethics (Philippa Foot, Confucianism, virtue ethics and more...) ...And much more. Full show notes on YouTube and Sentientism.info. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall via this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Thanks for the post-prod Graham.
01:00:30
September 14, 2021
74: Author C Lou Hamilton - "I'm increasingly unsatisfied with anyone who has any degree of privilege who claims to be doing social justice work who has no time for veganism" - Sentientism
C Lou / Carrie (@clouhamilton1 & veganismsexandpolitics.com & drcarriehamilton.com) is an author, editor & translator. She wrote the book "Veganism, Sex & Politics: Tales of Danger & Pleasure" about her vegan journey & how veganism relates to wider social justice issues including feminist, queer & anti-racist politics as well as environmentalism. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 2:05 Carrie's Intro - academic history to writing & activism - Acknowledging Canada's indigenous & settlement history - Growing up near Toronto - Agnostic, democratic socialist parents, focused on social justice, activism environmentalism & praxis. No feminism, animal ethics or colonial awareness - "I didn't know any vegetarians when I was growing up" - Extending moral consideration beyond humans. Considering our responsibilities - Feminism & women's studies - The liberation of leaving academia - Writing "Veganism, Sex & Politics" - Academic activism, public reach & politics - "The idea that you would do animal studies while at the same time eating their bodies..." 16:25 What's Real? - Agnosticism - Psychedelics, spiritual/mystical experiences - Having respect for religious people but little patience for religious institutions. Not positive influences. Patriarchy & authoritarianism - Institutional abuse & cover-ups - Naturalistic & supernatural experiences of awe & wonder - How supernatural beliefs can warp ethics - How religious organisations use societal deference as a shield - The positive contributions of religious institutions - Feminism: asking questions & considering practicalities 30:09 What Matters? - Supernatural & naturalistic ethical frameworks - The importance of challenging our assumptions & influences (e.g. re: sentient animals & veganism) - Individualism, collectivism, authoritarianism, dogma - Forms of feminism - "It's important to think about... & revise... where our values come from" - Movements that are ostensibly secular often mindlessly integrate aspects of authoritarianism & dogma from religion - Criticisms of veganism as puritan & sacrificial. But it's a pleasure! - The challeges of talking about veganism as a "moral baseline" (Francione, Steiner). Too much dogma? - Applying a naturalistic humility & scepticism to ethics - Introspection via Buddhist meditation & writing - Having the space & resources to slow down & be mindful + more! Full notes on YouTube and Sentientism.info. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall using this simple form. ​Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Our biggest so far is here on Facebook. Thanks for the post-prod Graham.
01:26:25
September 6, 2021
73: Artists of Data Science - cross-post bonus episode on the Philosophy of Sentientism
This episode is a bonus cross-post from The Artists of Data Science podcast where I talk to Harpreet Sahota about Sentientism. We cover some of my personal perspectives too - so as ever, many other Sentientists will disagree. Harpreet has hosted an eclectic range of guests in his 171 episodes so far. If it looks interesting, why not subscribe to TADS as well as Sentientism!
01:05:25
August 27, 2021
72: "Making Compassion Easier" - Tobias Leenaert - Author and meta-advocate - Sentientist Conversation
Tobias (@TobiasLeenaert) is an author & a vegan advocacy consultant. He blogs at Veganstrategist.org & wrote "How to Create a Vegan World". He is the co-founder of ProVeg International. He is an Effective Altruist - thinking about the best ways to achieve a compassionate society. He also describes himself as a "Slow opinionist". In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:28 Tobias' Intro - A life of vegan advocacy - Setting up EVA, then "meta-activism" helping other activists be more effective 2:37 What's Real? - Being confirmed as a Catholic & attending Catholic school because "that's just what you do" - Defending rational & scientific worldviews - "I'm not the most devout atheist you can find"... there's a possibility there's "something more" - Could religious visions one day be made real through technology? Reincarnation, heaven, creation/simulation? - "Maybe religious ideas are perversions of what is technologically possible" - Science fiction - Hallucinogenics & "religious" experiences - The hard problem of consciousness vs. "it's just what doing this sort of info processing feels like" - The echoes of religious ideas even for those who no longer believe. The Exorcist" movie 15:34 What Matters Morally? - Being raised as an ethical person. Volunteering at 12 yrs old - A teenage phase of being less morally engaged, then "it came back - especially with animals" - "That empathy was there always - without needing a system of rules" - Emotional & rational bases for compassionate ethics - "You can be a vegan sociopath"... decide rationally to act compassionately without feeling empathy 22:12 Extending moral consideration to non-humans - Loving companion cats and dogs at home as a child - Wondering what's the difference between them & cows we eat - "If I can't answer that question I have to stop eating animals" - Taking 10 years to go vegan even after that realisation - The power of taste preference... overcoming intertia - Making a bet to go without meat for a month. Then carrying on - Empathy, reasoning, then practice - "Making compassion easier" - Peter Singer's shallow pond thought experiment - Anthropocentrism, sentiocentrism, biocentrism, ecocentrism - Wild animal suffering & artificial sentients - "I don't see the point in going beyond sentientism - only sentient beings can suffer by definition" - The dangers of environmentalists granting moral consideration to species or populations that have no concerns & can't experience ... and much more. Full notes at Sentientism.info and on YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ here: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks Graham https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
01:08:09
August 25, 2021
71: "Boom! - the entire world changed - everyone was questioning everything" - Mariann Sullivan - Podcast Host and Activist Lawyer/Lecturer - Sentientist Conversation
Mariann (@marisul) is Co-host with previous guest Jasmin Singer of the Our Hen House podcast and host of the Animal Law Podcast. She is a lawyer, lecturer, teacher and animal rights activist. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on the Sentientism YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:40 Mariann's Intro. An Animal life - Working as a lawyer in New York - Adopting a dog on impulse then waking up to animal issue - "He'd stopped eating meat because of the way animals were treated - and t was just like 'boom!'" - Most people know there's a problem - they just avoid thinking about it - Joining (later chairing) the Animal Law Committee of the NY bar - Connecting animal advocacy organisations  - Meeting Jasmin Singer & starting Our Hen House 6:02 What's Real? - Growing up Catholic - "I had faith but it was never a burden for me" - Not really being religious any more... "but those voices never really go away" - As a teenager "It just started to seem unlikely" - Getting comfortable with "I don't know" - Ethics & evidence as reasons for abandoning supernatural worldviews - The tumult of Catholic college in 1968. From dressing for dinner & attending church to "men with beards living in the dorms" - "Boom - the entire world changed - everyone was questioning everything" - Leaning towards atheism but not being certain - "We're connected to each other in ways we don't understand" - Non-sentient living things - Woo! vs. naturalistic views of sentience & consciousness - Finding awe in a naturalistic worldview 18:01 What Matters? - "It's all about suffering"... and about pleasure too - Suffering matters... "It's so obvious" - "What kind of god -  would create this planet - where animals eat each other" - Morality as compliance vs. concern for suffering/flourishing - Reading Peter Singer. He wrote down what many were already feeling - "Why did I get there and everybody doesn't get there?" - "I don't think it's a philosophical problem... it's a psychological problem" - "How can you not sound self-righteous when you're right?" - "I don't understand why this is this big moral journey" - The "all we have to do is tell everybody" stage of activism - The family & social challenges of going vegan - The risks of motivated reasoning even within a naturalistic worldview 28:48 The Future - Balancing despair & hope with the help of Our Hen House - Things have shifted. "It's almost as if we have won the moral argument already." ... and much more. Full notes on YouTube or Sentientism.info. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall using this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook. Thanks Graham for the post-production.
58:24
August 13, 2021
70: "Social progress is ultimately inevitable" - @Soytheist Aditya Prakash - Sentientist Conversation
Aditya (https://www.soytheist.com/ & https://www.youtube.com/c/Soytheist) is an animal rights advocate from Assam in India. His @Soytheist YouTube channel focuses on taking a straightforward & rational approach to animal rights, identity politics & occasionally religion & atheism. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube https://youtu.be/A1a6z-uX6no We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:17 Aditya's Intro - rational animal rights - Having the "luxury" of being able to take a direct approach 3:10 What's Real? - India as a religious country - Growing up with religious parents who didn't push religion - Asking deep questions as a child & being handed Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" - Never believing in god "There is not sufficient evidence to support the claims." - Criticising religion requires more caution than discussing atheism - "A straightforward reading of a lot of religious scripture leads to conclusions & worldviews that are completely at odds with what a regular person would consider to be moral" - But "No matter what the scripture says you can bend it" so "the vast majority of religious people are perfectly moral people" - The mental gymnastics of adapting religious ethics (e.g. rejecting homophobia) 12:00 What Matters? - I can ground my morality as well as a Christian or a Muslim can. But not in a perfectly objective way - Every sentient values it's own suffering & flourishing - If our suffering & flourishing matters, so does that of others - Growing up in a "heavy meat-eating culture" in North-Eastern India - In Western countries the slaughter is hidden away. That's not the case in much of India  - Visiting a market at age 14 to buy goat meat. Seeing the terror in a baby goat's eyes as it was picked up & seeing another trying to hide. Thinking "that's exactly what I would do." "Don't kill him." - Discovering animal rights philosophy online - "This is the greatest moral emergency of our time & I have been contributing to this horrifying atrocity" - Going vegetarian then learning about dairy & going vegan - "What happened to you? - you've become like those 'mainland' Indians" - "There's a notion that veganism requires economic privilege - That's nonsense" - "The only people claiming that are those that think a Starbucks latte is a basic need" - The cheapest foods in the market were plant-based - "Pure veg" & caste purity - can hinder the fight for animal rights. It's about purity, not compassion ... and much more. Full show notes at sentientism.info and YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ here: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. ​Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks Graham.
01:00:12
August 2, 2021
69: Pineal Podcast - cross-post bonus episode about Sentientism
This episode is a bonus cross-post from the Pineal Podcast (https://www.pinealpodcast.com/) where I talked to Josh Smith (https://twitter.com/Pinealpodcast) about Sentientism. We cover some of my personal perspectives too - so as ever, other Sentientists will disagree. In his own words, Josh created the Pineal podcast to help awaken his spirit. He talks to people about their own journeys to explore the ways they think, how they acquired their views on life and seek to discover areas where commonality can be found. His conversations touch on nature and climate change; our agricultural system and veganism; individual activism and systems change; public education and population control; drug policy; prison reforms; the use of psychedelics; addiction, health and wellness; gratitude, mediation and yoga; music, travel and community; and morality and religion. If those topics sound interesting, why not subscribe to the Pineal Podcast! Sentientism: sentientism.info Sentientism Facebook 🍎https://apple.co/391khQO 👂https://pod.link/1540408008 📺https://www.youtube.com/c/Sentientism
01:15:33
July 30, 2021
68: Are Panpsychism, Veganism and Sentientism Compatible? - Luke Roelofs, Philosopher of Mind - Sentientist Conversation
Luke (lukeroelofs.com & Majestic Equality) is a philosopher of mind at the Centre for Mind, Brain & Consciousness at New York University. Although Luke works primarily on philosophy of mind & metaphysics, their areas of interest include ethics, social & political philosophy, early modern philosophy and philosophy of gender & sexuality. Their book, "Reason, Empathy, and the Minds of Others" is under contract with Oxford University Press. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." As well as the video above the audio is on our Podcast here on Apple and here on the other platforms. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:32 Luke's Intro - Philosophy of Mind Linking epistemology (how can we know) and ethics Empathy Consciousness as "the state that we're in whenever we're aware of anything… and any possible variation… of states like that" 3:41 What's Real? Growing up fairly non-religious, but not anti-religious Talking to "modern" Christians who focused on "the spirit of Jesus' ethos" Seeking out more forthright religious perspectives Being a fairly convinced atheist since 14 yrs "There's very little evidential weight in the specific claims of religious revelation" The idea the universe was contrived by a benevolent being… doesn't seem supported by the very morally mixed character of existence "The great majority of existence is neither good nor bad - it's just dust in space" Mysterious ways & ineffability Theodicies as reminiscent of the excuses humans make for abuse The "Just World" bias leads us to make excuses for suffering Faith as belief without evidence or faith as trust in & loyalty to your group 14:00 What (and Who) Matters? Going vegan at 13-14 to spite an annoying person who pointed out the logical inconsistency of being vegetarian "Fine… just to spite you I'm going to be vegan" ... and much more. Full show notes on Sentientism.info. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at sentientism.info. Join Luke on our "I'm a Sentientist" wall using this simple form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Come join us! Thanks Graham for the post-production.
01:18:57
July 28, 2021
67: "We need to develop Mental Immunity against epidemics of nonsense" - Andy Norman - Sentientist Conversation
Andy Norman (https://andynorman.org/ & https://twitter.com/DrAndyNo), PhD is the author of "Mental Immunity". His work has appeared in Scientific American, Psychology Today, Skeptic, Free Inquiry & The Humanist. He has appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience, public radio, The BBC & The Young Turks. He champions the emerging science of mental immunity as the antidote to bad ideas, disinformation, propaganda, hate & division. Andy directs the Humanism Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University & is the founder of CIRCE, the Cognitive Immunology Research Collaborative.  In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on the Sentientism YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome - Has philosophy neglected the most important questions? 2:02 Andy's Intro - "Mental Immunity" - Philosophy & critical thinking - Boosting the mind's immune system. Helping minds filter out bad ideas - Cognitive Immunology - the science of mental immune health - Combatting epidemics of nonsense 3:30 What's Real? - Raised w/out religious affiliation. Quaker meetings - "Most Quakers are pretty chill with a naturalistic view of the world" - "Supernatural believing is unaccountable believing" - "Nature can hold us accountable" - If our beliefs aren't held accountable they drift away from reality & from the beliefs of each other - Non-reality belief is spreading & causing social dislocation - Do rights exist or are they just a useful construct? - Being shy/sad at school & being told "just smile" as "spiritual" advice. "People just started smiling back" - The ancient roots of naturalism in philosophy - Supernaturalism, the dark ages & Enlightenment - "The germ theory of disease probably would have been discovered centuries earlier were it not for religious orthodoxy" - Hobbes, Locke & Mill - "Human welfare improved dramatically in the wake of the Enlightenment" - Pre-enlightenment roots of naturalism & sentiocentrism. Al Ma'arri. - Arab cultures preserved naturalism during the dark ages - Naturalism before humans & in other animals? - Naturalism is adaptive to the degree that it enables survival/reproduction - How correlated are the accuracy & usefulness of a belief? - The power of social norms, tribalism & belonging re: bad beliefs - Performative preference falsification & prevalence of latent/suppressed atheism even w/in religious communities - Dennett: Many believe it's good to believe in god rather than actually believing in god - "Reality-based worldviews are destined to win out in the long run... because they better serve humanity... caring about other tribes as well" ... and much more. See Sentientism.info and YouTube for full show notes. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/​​​​​​​​​​​​​. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ here: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist​. ​Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism​. Thanks for the post-production, Graham.
58:02
July 22, 2021
66: "Time has come for animals to be globally protected in UN-iversal law" - Sabine Brels of the World Federation for Animals
Sabine is legal advisor to the World Federation for Animals (https://wfa.org/). In 2014, she cofounded the Global Animal Law (GAL https://www.globalanimallaw.org/) Association and led work on the creation and update of the first complete Animal Welfare Legislation Database. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube https://youtu.be/OovrrbG1Crk. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:24 Sabine's Intro - Animal Law & International Governance for Animals - Founding GAL, building the AWL Database, developing a 100 strong global animal law community -  The UNCAHP (United Nations Convention on Animal Health & Protection) https://www.uncahp.org/ - #OneHealth & #OneWelfare - Working with the new World Federation for Animals to make animal protection a UN imperative 3:57 What's Real? - Learning about the beauty & value of the natural world from Sabine's grandmother - "I believe in what I can see but also in things I can't see that are obvious" - Looking into the eyes of a cat & sensing it's "soul" - Attending Catholic classes, but always preferring a more holistic, non-religious worldview - Finding Catholicism restrictive, seeing the downsides of religion, deciding not to attend communion - "We feel this notion of respect for all beings" - Respecting all life is common to most religions - Solidarity & compassion - The commonalities between religious/naturalistic worldviews. "Souls" vs. sentience. Energy & information processing. Universal connectedness. - "When I say 'soul' I mean that the being I see has a consciousness" 15:34 What Matters Morally? - A mother who was a nurse, motivated by human compassion - Developing a similar sensitivity for animal suffering from a young age - A close relationship with a German Shepherd dog - Being brought to a bull-fighting event in France at 4 years old. Seeing an animal being tortured to death - "feeling ashamed of my own species". "I wanted to intervene." Adults told me it wasn't real - then I saw the butchery behind the arena - "These animals needed some people to defend them" - "I felt it was my moral duty" - The challenges of going vegan in France - Facing health concerns from parents - At 18, asking a doctor how to go veg*an and being told "it's not possible to be healthy" - Moving to Canada. Finding it much easier there to go vegetarian then vegan. Avoiding zoos & animal tested products - Social context can make change hard or easy. ... And much more. Full show notes on Sentientism.info or YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ here: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks Graham for the post-prod.
59:11
July 16, 2021
65: "When I adopted a dog - my whole worldview shifted" - Aditya from Animal Ethics - Sentientist Conversation
Aditya is the wild animal suffering outreach coordinator for Animal Ethics in India. He works in grass-roots animal activism with a variety of organisations. He is studying Animal Protection Law at the National Legal Studies Research Institute in India. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:22 Aditya's Intro - Animal Advocacy in India 2:10 What's Real? From Hinduism to naturalism - Growing up Hindu and vegetarian - Vedanta. Dualistic theism. Dharma - Exploring other forms of spirituality after getting into animal advocacy - Veganism clashed with the culture (e.g. dairy) - Buddhism - Jiddu Krishnamurti, embracing naturalism and rationalism. 5:00 What Matters Morally? - The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would want to be treated - Learning about sentience, suffering & harm - "I used to just consider humans... but when I adopted a dog (Gini!) my whole worldview shifted" - Ahimsa as a theme in many worldviews, but most vegetarians in India don't have a strong connection with farmed animal suffering - Sentience as central - the capacity to feel pain or pleasure - Singer's Animal Liberation - Sharing a stress reaction with Gini to fireworks - "When you realise that all you've been taught through your life is wrong" - Speciesism & arbitrary discrimination - Going vegan. Practically easy but some social challenges - Bio, ecocentrism, holism - Nature as sacred in some traditions - "We need to focus on sentient beings not abstract entities" - "Who is being harmed?" - Don't harm sentient beings to protect non-sentient things - A lack of relationship doesn't justify moral exclusion - Even simpler sentients might suffer just as much - It's not just avoiding harming, its an obligation to help - It doesn't matter whether the cause of harm is human or not  19:00 Wild animal suffering - We need to correct the belief that "if humans leave nature alone nature will be perfect". Nature is not idyllic - High offspring r-strategies drive massive suffering & death 26:15 The Future - dystopias & utopias - The risk of creating new dystopias (e.g. insect farming, colonising other planets with more farmed/wild sentient suffering, artificial sentients) - Ending speciesism & granting moral consideration to all sentients - Technology is a double-edged sword - We need moral as well as tech innovation - Fixing current problems & avoiding creating new ones 30:26 Which entities are sentient? - Sentience as a biologically evolved class of information processing - Updating our assessment of sentience using science - Is centralisation of structures required? ...and much more. Full show notes on YouTube and Sentientism.info. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall using this form. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one here on FB. Thanks Graham for the post-prod.
49:43
July 6, 2021
64: "The conversation has to start with you" - Jenny Splitter - Journalist and SciMom Founder - Sentientist Conversation
Jenny (@jennysplitter and jennysplitter.com) is an award-winning journalist & science writer covering food, agriculture, climate change, biodiversity, health & technology. Her work has been published across a wide range of media outlets including Vox, Forbes, Observer, The Washington Post, Popular Mechanics and New York Magazine. Jenny is a co-founder & contributing editor to the science communication project SciMoms. She is also a podcast host on the Animal Studies channel of the New Books Network & her newsletter, FutureFeed, chronicles change in the food system. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:05 Jenny's Intro - journalism and SciMoms - The Science Moms film  2:09 What's Real? - Growing up in California as reform Jewish - Reform Judaism: "It's definitely not heavy handed with the God stuff" - Most of the parents were atheist and agnostic. It's mostly about the ritual and the tradition and the history - Jewish philosophy re: responsibility, community obligations & making the world better - It's less about the rules than the discussion - Moving from a naive view of a caring god to "at some point I just didn't really worry about it any more" 7:58 What Matters Morally? - Complexity in reform Judaism moral discussions at Hebrew school - "Closer vs. further away from God" - "Of course I'm angry - I've just been told by my friend I'm going to hell" - SkepChick & other atheist communities - "Do no harm", community, avoiding bad people, getting into the complex stuff - COVID & re-thinking communities - The evolution of morality, good & bad - Moral scope & consideration - Writing about the climate impacts of meat & going reducetarian, then just stopping eating meat - Enjoying substituting out animal products in cooking - Not wanting to do the big philosophical debate but changing behaviour anyway - Morality then behaviour or behaviour then morality? - Philosophical arguments vs. "real people" conversations - Emotion, stories & logic - Mollusc/invertebrate sentience? - Assessing the suffering of farmed animals & fish - Garrett Broad @ Fordham & why we care about some animals & not others - "My cat is a vicious murderer" - We don't have to understand non-human animal sentience perfectly to be confident they can suffer - Bio/ecocentrism, conservation and environmentalism. "We have to be thinking about ecosystems" - Ecosystem services - "Perilous bounty" by Tom Philpott - #JustTransition for industrialised & indigenous cultures ...and much more. Full notes on Sentientism.info and YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ here: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one is here on Facebook. Thanks Graham for the post-prod.
57:08
July 1, 2021
63: "May all beings be happy & free from suffering" - Cebuan Bliss - Sentientist Conversations
Cebuan (Cebby) Bliss (https://twitter.com/CebbyBliss) is a PhD candidate researching animal and biodiversity governance at Radboud University in the Netherlands (https://www.ru.nl/english/people/bliss-c/). In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is also on the Sentientism YouTube Channel. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:03 Cebuan's Intro - from the corporate world to academia - Environmental & animal welfare governance 4:17 What's Real? - Growing up in the UK in a Christian religious context, but not in a religious family - Having a naturalistic mindset from the start - Linking food to animals & going vegetarian at 6 yrs old (later vegan) - The commodification of life in animal agriculture - Seeing foxhunting, shooting & other traditional "countryside pursuits" - Atheism, agnosticism & developing an appreciation for eastern philosophy & spirituality through yoga 7:20 What Matters? - Compassion, sentience & avoiding harm - "May all beings be happy & free from suffering... may the thoughts, words and actions of my life contribute to the happiness and freedom for all." 11:55 Psychedelics, spiritualism & naturalism - Psychedelics & the perspectives they can open up - The precautionary principle. Acting in uncertainty - Bayesian thinking & probability 14:37 Supernaturalism, Religion & Morality - Using Holism "circle of life!" to justify harming/killing others - The centrality of compassion 18:16 Moral Scope & Considerability - Anthropocentrism, Sentiocentrism, Biocentrism, Ecocentrism - Combining ecocentrism &  a compassionate animal welfare perspective. Compassionate conservation - Invasive species governance - How we categorise non-human animals (invasive, companion, farmed, vermin...)  - Sentience as a grounding - The instrumental or intrinsic value of ecosystems 25:00 The Future - breaking out of anthropocentrism - Naturalism & sentiocentrism vs. social norms and indoctrination - The damage caused by anthropocentrism - EU Lisbon Treaty (2009) recognition of animal sentience - Human cultures & customs & industry used as justification for harm & killing - Transformative governance: Integrated, inclusive, informed, adaptive. Tackling root causes - Changing entire systems. Social/economic... - "Humans can be thought of as an invasive species" - Invasive species can improve biodiversity 29:05 Sentientist Development Goals / Universal Declaration of Sentient Rights? ...and much more. Full show notes on YouTube and Sentientism.info.  Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ here: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism.
52:28
June 28, 2021
62: "Animal farming will end by the end of this century" - Jacy Reese Anthis - Sentientist Conversation
Jacy (https://twitter.com/jacyanthis & https://jacyanthis.com/) is a social scientist & co-founder of the Sentience Institute (https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/). His acclaimed book, The End of Animal Farming  (https://jacyanthis.com/book), analyzes the development & popularisation of food technologies such as plant-based & cultivated meat. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:26 Jacy's Intro Utilitarianism, Effective Altruism, Buddhism, neuroscience, community building, Animal Charity Evaluators, Sentience Institute, The End of Animal Farming, Sociology PhD & moral expansion. 3:22 What's Real? - Growing up around Baptist & Catholic churches near Houston but in an agnostic family - Attending church "lockins" - "I wasn't even told Santa was real growing up" - Interested in Buddhist views of suffering, but not the supernatural aspects - Naturalism has a connotation that there is nothing supernatural. "That's an empirical claim about which I remain uncertain" - Would multiverses, our universe being a simulation or pre-Big Bang history be seen as "supernatural"? - The varieties of religious identity: metaphysics, ethics, community 9:20 What Matters? - Moral heuristics & their conflicts - Adopting utilitarianism at 12 yrs old & looking for a "proof" - From moral realism to anti-realism (per Brian Tomasik) - It's up to us to decide which mental phenomenon to put in the "sentience" and "consciousness" categories - Objectivity, relativism, nihilism & arbitrariness - Even most religious people would act morally if there was no god - Rejecting "mind-independent" truth as the next step up from rejecting supernatural truths - Non-objective morality can still be compelling - Grounding morality in a concern for the experiences of others - The priority balance between reducing suffering vs. enhancing flourishing 18:20 Moral Scope & Expansion - Utilitarianism led to vegetarianism then veganism - Focusing initially on human issues, working at GiveWell - Cause prioritisation led back to non-human issues - Persuading sentiocentrists to be more effective & effective altruists to be sentiocentric - The bias against helping other species -  Non-human animal causes can seem sentimental until you engage w/the arguments - Far future/long-termism - Effective Altruists have the highest veg*n % of almost any human group - Ancient roots of sentiocentrism/veganism & naturalism - "Everything has been said before" ... And much more - see Sentientism.info for full show notes. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ here: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks Graham for the post-prod https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
01:17:42
June 21, 2021
61: "You cannot go wrong with compassion" - Frans de Waal - Animal Morality - Sentientist Conversations
Frans (fransdewaal.com) is a primatologist & ethologist. He is Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University, director of the Living Links Center at Emory & the author of many books including "Chimpanzee Politics", "Our Inner Ape" & "The Bonobo & the Atheist". He has featured in TV/radio productions & TED talks viewed by tens of millions of people. His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, & food-sharing. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences & the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:19 Frans' Intro - Understanding animals - Ethology, primates, animal behaviour, intelligence & morality - Breaking out of behaviourism. "We have so much evidence for animal intelligence... these taboos are being broken" - The ripple effect. Finding remarkable capabilities in primates, then in many other species 4:05 What's Real? From Catholic to apathist - Growing up Catholic & dropping religion at 17 - "My parents were very unhappy but I was part of a generation where everyone was doing that" - Apathism... "I don't particularly care if god exists" - "In Catholicism & every religion there's a lot of hypocrisy... people who talk one way & act another" - Child abuse scandals & cover-ups - "Jesus was an inspiring figure... whether he's a real historical figure or not" - Half of people in the Netherlands call themselves atheists & we see that coming to the USA 8:48 What Matters Morally? - Religious & evolutionary & intuition as drivers of morality - Religions can provide narratives to support your moral intuitions (e.g. the good samaritan) - "You cannot go wrong with compassion, morally" - Studying empathy in non-human animals - You can't build a moral system without empathy - Reasoning & logic, without compassion, can lead to awful harm - "Empathy & compassion are not human inventions" - Very young human children & dogs both show compassion to a crying person (Carolyn Zahn-Waxler) - We find compassion in many non-human animals & that is the basis for human morality too - The ability to detect sentience in others & to feel affected by it. Roots in maternal care (hence empathy more developed in females)? Oxytocin - "If you have a co-operative animal society you need to worry about your fellows" ... And much more... full show notes at sentientism.info Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on FaceBook. Thanks @cgbessellieu for the post-production.
51:26
June 15, 2021
60: "That's moral progress - you have to interfere in things" - Philosopher Kyle Johannsen - Sentientism
Kyle (https://twitter.com/KyleJohannsen2 and https://philpeople.org/profiles/kyle-johannsen) is Adjunct Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Queen's University. His research is in social & political philosophy, & in animal & env. ethics. He teaches normative ethics, metaethics, bioethics, business ethics, cyberethics, the philosophy of law & critical thinking. He is the author of "Wild Animal Ethics". In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:22 Kyle's Intro - Catia Faria's (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catia_Faria) dissertation on wild animal suffering 2:25 What's Real? - Growing up Roman Catholic. Attending catholic schools. Believing in god. - "I didn't like being Catholic. I found it very restrictive... I didn't like having to pray - it felt fruitless" - Ethics was being thought about but "I didn't like the conservative values" e.g. abortion, contraception, sex - "It just struck me as false." - Catholicism did leave the impression that it's important to think about morality - Majoring in philosophy 8:25 What Matters? - "Morality is objective" - "Even relativists behave like morality is objective... why would you argue unless there were some right answer?" - Even under objective morality duties vary by context - Moral objectivism doesn't have to imply moral realism - Consistency, coherence, flourishing, co-op as potential groundings - Goods (welfare, resources, health, relationships), functions (distribution, efficiency, increases) & constraints (respect) values - "I don't know if pleasure always wins out" - Pluralism within Sentientism 21:15 Moral Scope? Sentience - Anthropocentrism, Sentiocentrism, Biocentrism, Ecocentrism - Sentientism as Sentiocentrism & Naturalism - Sentiocentrism itself implies naturalism. It conflicts with many supernatural/religious worldviews (e.g. soul as basis for moral value, use of science to assess sentience) - Hard cases of marginal sentience (brain injury, foetal development, simplest animals) 28:27 The Journey to Sentientism - Taking a PhD animal ethics course taught by Will Kymlicka based on Zoopolis - Concluding that "Sentience is the correct criterion for inclusion in the moral community" - Pluralism re: various goods. But sentience is a condition for the non-welfare elements to count as good (e.g. health only matters if the being cares about being healthy) - "Veganism is a moral requirement if sentiocentrism is right" - Going vegan during the PhD. Cutting out animal products over 8 month transition. Finding social support - And much more. See YouTube or Sentientism.info Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/ Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ Join me and Kyle in our biggest community group - open to all: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism
01:22:59
June 12, 2021
59: "I'm positive about our future... I experienced the rapid change in my own views" - Lu Shegay - Institute of Animal Law of Asia - Sentientist Conversation
Lu (https://twitter.com/LuShegay) is an animal law attorney from Kazakhstan, now based in the USA. She is the co-founder and Managing Director of the Institute of Animal Law of Asia (https://www.ialasia.org/ and https://twitter.com/ianimallawasia). In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:15 Lu's Intro - Animal law from Kazakhstan to the USA 2:07 What's Real? - Kazakhstan as a secular country, with Islam and Christianity the main religions - Being brought to Christianity by Lu's mother - Learning about religion and realising "it's not real - god is not real" - Believing "there's somebody above us but they're not like us" - "I believe in the universe and I believe in science" -  Believing using facts and reason, but also believing there are some things that can't be explained 6:52 What Matters Morally? - Morality can come from the heart. Listening to ourselves re: what feels right or wrong - Having compassion & putting yourself in someone else's shoes - As a child: loving animals but still eating animals - Re-considering animal ethics while exploring animal law in Kazakhstan - "The legal system doesn't work well in Kazakhstan even for humans" so many aren't ready for the animal law field - Studying animal law in the USA and learning about animal suffering - Dr Raj Reddy's class "changed my world" https://law.lclark.edu/live/profiles/7148-rajesh-reddy - Going vegetarian - Learning about what happens to male chicks in the egg industry. Giving up eggs - Going vegan. "It came to me naturally that I was doing something wrong" - Eating meat is central to culture in Kazakhstan but there are meat and dairy alternatives - Family not understanding veganism. Questioning health and ethics - "I've only met one other vegan in Kazakhstan" - Biocentrism, ecocentrism and the interdependencies for sentients - Loving space, but not understanding why governments spend so much more on exploring other planets rather than caring for ours and exploring our oceans - Long-termism. Space colonisation 21:54 The Future - Being realistic about moral scope expansion - Raising awareness and educating people - Recognising that different countries have very different contexts. Where there are serious human crises it's harder to prioritise non-human issues - The non-human animal law agenda across Asia - Does law follow culture and politics or can it lead and innovate as well? - In many Asian countries politics & law don't respond to public opinion - Some countries have animal laws but there is no enforcement (e.g. Kazakhstan animal cruelty legislation) - Different animal law approaches (cruelty, personhood, farming/fishing) - The EU and UK recognising the salience of animal sentience - "I'm positive about our future... I experienced the rapid change in my own views". Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism.
37:33
June 9, 2021
58: "Factory farming is a complete disaster" - FT Journalist Henry Mance - Sentientist Conversations
Henry (https://twitter.com/henrymance) is the chief features writer for the Financial Times newspaper. He is the author of "How to Love Animals in a Human Shaped World." (https://uk.bookshop.org/books/1606708923_how-to-love-animals-in-a-human-shaped-world/9781787332089). In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our Conversation is on the Sentientism YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:27 Henry's Intro - Studying environmental policy - Photography and the natural world - Working for a biodiversity think tank in Colombia - Journalism at the Financial Times - Writing "How to Love Animals..." - "It hasn't really been about changing my values... it's been about trying to align my behaviours." 3:25 What's Real? Anglican Christianity - Keith Thomas' "Man and the Natural World" - Different Christian perspectives on non-human animals - Is the Noah's Ark story one reason why we find zoos acceptable? - "Noah's Ark is not a particularly good model for conservation" - "We think we're Noah but in fact we're the flood" - Interviewing the Archbishop of Canterbury "Pets do go to heaven!" - Animal Interfaith Alliance - "Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom or compassion" - Talking to Mongolian Buddhists about eating meat "if you don't see the killing it's less of a sin" - How distance means we allow animal farming to continue - JW: "The Dalai Lama isn't vegan and he has no excuses" - How Anglicanism focuses on compassion & love rather than dogmatic rules - Obedience vs. compassion in religious ethics - The church has often been behind the curve in ethics - "Iris Murdoch's idea of love helped me more than any direct religious underpinning" 13:00 What Matters? - At first "I wanted animals to be OK because I liked looking at them." Polar bears and orangutans - The impact of humanity on wild animals - Shifting to take the animals' point of view - Being forced to think about animal farming in Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens - How viewing species of animals as "eaten" reduces our assessment of sentience - We spend money on our pets medical bills that could save human lives - "If it happens like this it must be tolerable" - "Sentience is a pretty good starting point" - Are bivalves & insects sentient? - The richness of bee behaviour & the risks of insect farming - "Surely people can see for themselves - that is a conscious animal" - Edge cases vs. the core issue of animal farming - "There is something really special about consciousness" vs biocentrism & ecocentrism - Whether you care about sentience or ecosystems what you have in common is "Factory farming is a complete disaster" - And much more (see Sentientism.info or YouTube for full show notes). Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism.
57:53
June 7, 2021
57: "We don't need a god - we can do it ourselves" - Philosopher Richard Brown - Sentientist Conversation
Richard (https://twitter.com/onemorebrown & https://onemorebrown.com/)  is a philosopher at CUNY. His work is focused on the philosophy of mind, consciousness studies & the foundations of cognitive science. He also has interests & projects in the philosophy of language, metaethics, philosophy of physics, logic, the philosophy of logic and the history of philosophy. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:10 Richard's Intro: A carbon-based philosopher. 2:08 What's real? - Attending Christian and other religious venues. Mother converting to being a Jehovah's Witness - "I found it incredible - in the sense of not possible to believe" - "Worship me or die" - Theodicy & the problem of evil - Refusing baptism at the age of 14. "If you live in my house you're going to do this." - Running away, stealing a motorcycle, being arrested & spending 4 years at juvenile hall - Scholarship & philosophy - Atheistic re: formal religions: "I find the stuff in all the holy texts to be obviously man made", but agnostic re: theism - What counts as evidence? Fine tuning, arguments from design? - Simulation hypothesis. Maybe our creator is a teenager in the next universe up or hyper-dimensional mice - God as a genocidal maniac - Religious homophobia - Naturalistic ethics based on reason (vs. authority/fear/obedience) - "It's better to do the naturalistic thing because you have to ultimately do it anyway" - Islam means "peace through submission" - "It's undignified to demand worship" 18:29 What matters morally? - "I always thought it was obvious that there are things that matter morally" - Being raised vegetarian, then going vegan - The optimistic futurism of the 1950's - JW pamphlets depicting a transhumanist utopia where we've engineered the predators to eat Impossible Burgers - "I was raised to see animals as companions & friends & family members" - Kant, universalism, freedom & autonomy - Theirs is valuable because mine is valuable - "There's something rational about morality" - "I couldn't make sense of sociopaths" - Hume's is/ought - A flaw in traditional Kantian ethics is that "only 'rational creatures' get into the club". Christine Korsgaard corrects - Ethical pluralism & moral considerability 32:42 Sentience, consciousness and p-zombies - Panpsychism as a popular alternative to the impasse between physicalism & dualism - Can electrons experience/suffer? Are they pieces of consciousness? If so, surely they're bored? - Epiphenomenalism - We often respond before we are conscious - "The mind is the brain" - Is panpsychism any more outlandish than the concept of fields in physics? ... And much more. See YouTube and Sentientism.info. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/.  Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism.
01:21:23
June 2, 2021
56: "We are entropic eddies complex enough to have woken up" - Hugo Award winning Sci-Fi author Peter Watts - Sentientist Conversation
Peter Watts (https://rifters.com/) is a Hugo Award winning sci-fi author. His works include the Rifters trilogy (e.g. Starfish) & the Firefall series (e.g. Blindsight). He earned a Ph.D from the Univ of BC Canada. He held several academic positions & worked as a marine-mammal biologist before becoming an author.  In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:30 Peter's Intro - Baptist to biology to sci-fi - A father so confident in Baptist truth that he encouraged questioning "He taught so many people about the word of god but had somehow failed to reach me" - Becoming a marine biologist then fleeing the political bullshit - Becoming a sci-fi author - Including academic references in sci-fi. "I've been published in Nature more than they have because Nature publishes sci-fi stories!" - "One of the coolest things about this gig is that scientists seek me out" 4:35 What's real? - Parental default "We're programmed to imitate & imprint" - A "rock star" Baptist minister father who trained other ministers. Seeing him struggle with domestic abuse, dementia & being a "non-practicing homosexual" - "He was the most unjudgmental man I've ever known." "Rolling his eyes at the sin but loving the sinner." Maybe because he was afraid of being judged for being gay. "A tormented, unhappy but wonderful guy" - Starting to question religion by reading sci-fi - Robert Heinlein's 'Stranger in a Strange Land' "introduced me to what an asshole the old testament god was". For some reason this hadn't been mentioned in Sunday school - Interestingly, as a gay minister, dad didn't seem to know about Leviticus - "Learning just enough from sci-fi novels to be an asshole to my dad" - "God doesn't really explain anything" - Being an atheist teenager + later becoming anti-religious - "Religion is basically a biological epiphenomenon" - Snorting oxytocin to improve fidelity - In/out group tribalism - Once you strip away the rhetoric humans act pretty much like any other mammal - "Being right is not as important in survival as having the esteem of your social group" - "Nobody ever achieved exalted social status by saying 'you guys are all fucking morons & here's my evidence'" - More educated people sometimes just have better post-rationalisations - "When you think of people as mammals a lot of stuff that seems bat-shit insane suddenly makes sense" - A soft spot for psionics/telepathy: "Time travelling snuff porn"? - "We kinda don't know everything yet - isn't that what science is about?" - Does being open-minded make us vulnerable to fundamentalists? - "It's easier to fit god than uncertainty onto a bumper sticker" And much more... (see YouTube or Sentientism.info) Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ here: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks Graham: https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
01:15:46
May 24, 2021
55: "We don't have to wait until the 24th century for a Star Trek future" - Christopher Sebastian - Sentientist Conversations
Christopher Sebastian is the director of social media for Peace Advocacy Network, sits on the Advisory Council for Encompass, is a senior fellow at Sentient Media, is co-founder of VGN, and lectures at Columbia University in the Department of Social Work for the graduate course POP: Power, Oppression, & Privilege. Using a multidisciplinary approach that includes media theory, political science, & social psychology, he focuses on how human relationships with other animals shape our attitudes about race, sexuality & class. https://www.patreon.com/ChristopherSebastian https://www.instagram.com/the_christopher_sebastian/ https://www.christophersebastian.info/ In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on the Sentientism YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:20 Christopher's Intro - journalism, mass comms, digital research 1:40 What's real - From christianity to atheism - Growing up in a religious family (Catholic, African Methodist Episcopalian) in the USA south - Attending Catholic school - Questioning Christianity particularly as a queer person "I knew I was very different from the other little boys" - Asking lots of questions. An early journalistic instinct? - Being shocked when a teacher refused to pray for a child's parent who had committed suicide. Universal compassion & love but "not for her!" - The binary contrast between a benevolent god & the vengeful, vindictive god - "The interia pulls you back to what's safe & comfortable" - Becoming atheist "I couldn't make sense of it", but still following Christian traditions - The social/family challenges of queerness & leaving religion - "Black church is really different - it's fun" music, dancing, sheer jubilation. "You can't avoid being caught up in the energy & fellowship" 12:31 What matters morally? - "If you don't believe in god then you're just running around murdering, pillaging & raping like some sort of pirate!" - "We can be moral agents without believing in a higher being" - Without god there's an even greater obligation to treat each other with respect and compassion - If this is the only life we have isn't it even more valuable? 16:55 Extending compassion - The more minoritised identities you have, the more aware you are of the need for being just & kind - Race, queerness, femme of centre - "You're aware there's a hierarchy. It requires us to be more benevolent to one another" - Including other animals was "just obvious" - Who gets to be in the club re: "personhood" (like "whiteness"), can move arbitrarily - And much more... (full notes on YT or Sentientism.info) Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ using this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism.
01:07:60
May 18, 2021
54: Suffering matters even if we didn't cause it - Heather Browning - from Zookeeping to Philosophy
Heather (https://twitter.com/zoophilosophy & https://www.heatherbrowning.net/) is a scientist, philosopher & a former zookeeper & welfare officer. She is now a researcher at the London School of Economics specialising in animal sentience, welfare, & ethics.  In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on the Sentientism YouTube. We discuss: 1:33 Heather Intro - biology to zookeeping to philosophy - Volunteering, later working at zoos. Getting to know animals - Studying zoology/biology - Studying philosophy, shifting to PhD focus on measuring animal welfare - "Cheetahs don't really like to run" - How do "natural behaviours" relate to animal welfare - Trying to take the animal's point of view - The Foundations of Animal Sentience programme at LSE - The power of interdisciplinary work 10:55 What's real? - Growing up in a fairly naturalistic household. Occasional church visits - Being encouraged to question & explore - Joining a church group for the community - Balking at religious rules/restrictions - Asking questions & not getting answers - "Science just seemed like the best way of investigating the world" - Scientists are flawed humans too - There are many things we don't know & some we may never understand - We're evolved creatures that have developed heuristics that have been useful to us for survival/procreation - The dangers of a need for/expectation of perfection - Dangers of over-confidence/dogma/motivated reasoning in science 21:54 What matters morally? - Naturalism does involve giving up meaning, but we can create our own meaning - Hedonist nihilism. What matters to me? - Sitting between naturalising or eliminating morality, vs. moral realism - Evolutionary basis of human consciousness, including empathy, fairness, co-operation (and not just in humans) - "What matters is the subjective pleasure and pains we have in our lives" - "Our wellbeing is an objective fact about the world" - Empathy is caring about the wellbeing of others 31:42 Which entities matter? Moral scope - "I've always loved animals" - At 5 yrs "When I grow up I want to be a zookeeper" - Finding it difficult to eat meat. Feeling disgust  - Saying "I'm vegetarian" to get out of cooking meat in a class, then realising "I could just do that" and going vegetarian at 12 yrs - Supportive parents: "Now you need to learn to cook!" & being joined by a sister - A friend was told "You can't go vegetarian" - And much more... See Sentientism.info or YouTube for full notes. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join Heather on our "I'm a Sentientist" wall https://sentientism.info/wall/ using this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks Graham for the post-prod https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
01:17:48
May 15, 2021
53: "I would consider myself a Sentientist now" - Tennis pro Marcus Daniell - Sentientist Conversation
Marcus (https://twitter.com/MarcusDaniell) is a professional tennis player from New Zealand. He is a philanthropist and an advocate for effective altruism through his work as the founder of High Impact Athletes (https://highimpactathletes.org/) and as a member of Giving What We Can.  In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome 1:45 Marcus intro - pro tennis and High Impact Athletes charity 3:02 What's real? - Growing up on a farm in New Zealand - A "spiritual" father and a "hippie" mother - Pragmatism, a love for nature and animals, but a comfort with death. Hunting as a child - Attending Christian schools - Enjoying Religious Education but never buying in. Being agnostic/atheist from a young age - Moving alone to Slovakia for tennis - Discovering "spirituality" and eastern philosophies - Studying philosophy at university - Discovering animal ethics but thinking "I'm an athlete, I need meat" - A turning point when a friend ordered whale in a sushi restaurant in Tokyo - Going veg*an a week later - Finding awe and wonder in a naturalistic/scientific worldview - "Put me next to the ocean or in a forest or a jungle and it's like experiencing magic for me" - Naturalistic karma? Putting positive energy into the world and getting positive things back 14:06 What matters? Humans and non-humans - Meeting a vegan tennis pro - "I now feel like I'm living in my space in the world - in the right way" - A sense of solidity... "That's really helped me" - Our lack of understanding of non-human sentients - Intelligence vs. sentience as a moral qualifier - "I would consider myself a sentientist now" - I try to give respect to all sentient beings. If they can suffer, try not to cause them suffering - Artificial sentients? Does suffering matter regardless of species or substrate? - Sentience as an evolved class of information processing that could also be programmed in - Luna the puppy makes an audio appearance - Existential, catastrophic and suffering risks (S-risks) - Peter Singer's Animal Liberation. Trying not to cause suffering - It's so easy not to think. "I wonder how we can create more of these culturally shocking moments to make more people understand" - The morals were somewhere there, just hidden under layers of culture and tradition 28:05 The Future - Talking to others about animal products and hearing "We agree on all the reasons but I'm not going to make the change" - "I would love for the world to be plant-based" - Is regenerative animal farming an option? - Can slaughter ever be humane? - The broad common ground re: rejecting factory farming - And more... (see YouTube or Sentientism.info). Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/ w/this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Marcus is on our "celebs" page: https://sentientism.info/sentientist-pledge/marcus-daniell. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks Graham for the post-prod https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
41:57
May 11, 2021
52: "Ending animal testing is a win-win for humans and animals" - neurologist CEO Aysha Akhtar - Sentientist Conversation
Aysha (https://twitter.com/DrAyshaAkhtar & http://www.ayshaakhtar.com/) is a neurologist, public health specialist & author. She is President & CEO of the Center for Contemporary Sciences (https://contemporarysciences.org/). She worked for the Office of Counterterrorism & Emerging Threats of the FDA & served as Lieutenant Commander in the US Public Health Service. She is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. Aysha wrote: "Animals &  Public Health: Why treating animals better is critical to human welfare." In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: 0:00 Welcome & Sentientism 2:10 Aysha Intro - Neurology, public health, emerging threats (e.g. pandemics) - Setting up CCS to replace all animal research and testing with human relevant methods 4:27 What's Real? Renouncing Islam, becoming atheist - Growing up in a Pakistani Muslim family, but more culturally than strictly religious - Calling herself a Muslim, but then seeing how her father & Muslim society treated girls & women differently - Feeling pressure to dress modestly - Announcing "I renounce Islam" at 11 yrs old - Still believing in a god, then becoming an atheist - "Why would a god care about me and not someone else living a miserable life?" "If there is a god, why is there so much suffering?" - How can the suffering we cause animals be something a god could allow? - Religion helps people feel less lost. Understanding why people cling to it - Meaning, value, moral structure, purpose, community, love, awe & wonder are available naturalistically too. 15:50 What Matters Morally? All suffering & flourishing beings - Keeping the good parts of religious morality - "Living a life that causes the least amount of harm & the greatest amount of joy possible" - "Of course that includes non-human animals because they feel, they have emotions" - Our moral basics can be very simple - Rights, dignity, personhood, sentience - Why so much philosophy assumes only humans matter. The fundamental mistake of disregarding so much suffering - People seem more concerned about the potential suffering of AI & mini organic brains, while not caring about animals - Experiencing sexual abuse & finding solace with Sylvester the dog "my best friend" - Finding out Sylvester was being physically abused & calling that out, then finding the confidence to stand up for herself - Accidentally being sent PETA materials about the life of a dairy cow. The family went vegetarian that evening - Being a vegetarian in the Pakistani community in the 1980's was unheard of - Being made fun of my other kids, but "I didn't give a damn". "I didn't care what they thought about me I cared what they thought about the issue" - Reading Regan, Singer. Finding the connections between human & non-human ethics & rights - "We were such nerds" 31:05 What are sentience & consciousness? - And more - see YT! Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/ w/this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist.   Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups e.g.: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism.
01:10:08
May 6, 2021
51: "There is no 'us and them' " - Yasmine Mohammed - Ex-muslim activist - Sentientist Conversation
Yasmine (https://twitter.com/YasMohammedxx & https://www.yasminemohammed.com/) is a rights activist, advocating for the rights of women living within Islamic majority countries. Yasmine founded Free Hearts Free Minds (https://www.freeheartsfreeminds.com/). Her book, Unveiled, recalls her experiences growing up in a fundamentalist Islamic household & her arranged marriage to a member of Al-Qaeda. In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: - Growing up in a fundamentalist Muslim household in Canada, attending Islamic school, being dressed in hijab & niqab - Being forced into marriage with an Al Qaeda member (now in prison in Egypt), considered "strong enough to control me" - Questioning things from a young age - The isolation of some religious communities even in secular states - Having a daughter & that being a catalyst for change - Escaping from husband & family - Going to university & learning about religions. The intoxication of being allowed to question - "I've been wasting my whole life terrified of a figment of the imagination of some ancient man" - "You spend so much of your life ruled by a fairy tale" - What's real? Believing in Islam - "It's embarrassing to admit I really did believe these things" - "You're indoctrinated from birth... & punished for questioning" - "You believe or you burn in hell" - "Every aspect of your life is laid out... Questioning is challenging god himself. So you must submit" - The life of Mohammed. The Quran as the word of god - "You don't think 'is this a good thing to do?' you think 'is this the correct thing to do?'" - What's real? Leaving Islam - Taking off the hijab & being told "you need to be killed before you leave Islam" by her mother, "I will be punished for eternity for having a daughter who is an infidel" - How a Jehovah's Witness mother might allow their child to die rather than allow a blood transfusion - Abraham's willingness to kill his own son - "Honour killings" (murders) - Religious compliance as above "ordinary morality" - Studying religion, seeing 9/11 happen & being horrified - Seeing a BBC reporter find Bin-Laden documents mentioning Yas' ex-husband's firm - "I needed to get my daughter out of that world before she started to think that was OK" - Hints of fundamentalism in the atheist movement - Appearing in Jay Shapiro's film "Islam & the future of tolerance" w/Sam Harris & Maajid Nawaz - "Meditation saved my life" - Humility & open-mindedness at the heart of naturalism - And more... (see YouTube for full notes) Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/ w/this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks Graham https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
01:30:06
May 2, 2021
50: "Animal activists don't have to be on the political left" - Josh Milburn - Sentientist Conversation
Josh (https://josh-milburn.com/ & https://twitter.com/JoshLMilburn & https://www.instagram.com/aveganphilosopher/) is a moral & political philosopher with research interests in animal ethics, the philosophy of food, liberal & libertarian political theory & applied ethics. He is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Dept of Politics & International Relations at the University of Sheffield. He co-hosts the Knowing Animals podcast. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/akBBFREpveU. We discuss: - Taking an interdisciplinary approach to academia & activism - Encountering various religious traditions as a child - Thinking "I don't believe that" at 8 years old re: Noah's ark - Being a "militant atheist" as a teenager - Studying religions to undergrad level - What is real & what we can know to be real - There is a world out there but we don't know all about it - Science & naturalism - Dogma vs open-mindedness & humility - Moral realism & different kinds of claim/evidence - The dangers of moral relativism & nihilism - Grounding morality in a naturalistic understanding of sentient beings & sentience. "I don't suffering & I don't think you do either" - Pluralism - Religious studies didn't cover philosophy - Being very resistant to vegetarianism. A fundamental challenge - Reading Peter Singer at 17 while considering studying philosophy - "Philosophers are often not the best activists" - Philosophical arguments don't have the same impact on everyone - Some people "get it" but still don't change. Others just don't get it - "Imagine animals had rights - how would we feed the world?... It would't be a vegan food system." Clean/cultivated meats & milks - "Can we get to an ethical food system without people having to change their practices at all?" - Animals where it's less certain whether they are sentient. Invertebrates, oysters, jellyfish, insects, sponges - Deciding how to act in the face of uncertainty - "It's got to be a high bar to say 'you cannot do that thing that is central to your life'" but "Sentient animals have rights" and that's enough to tell pig farmers to stop - Edge cases re: veganism & animal ethics - Liberalism & state coercion. Only using coercion when injustice is clear - Having compassion for human sentients too, even those doing harm - #JustTransition - The history of the term "Sentientism". Rodman, Ryder, Singer - It's hard not to be consequentialist in its broadest sense - Deontological rules do have to pay attention to what happens - Gary Francione's abolitionism - Sue Donaldson & Will Kymlicka's Zoopolis - Sentientism as a pluralistic philosophy - "Animal activists don't have to be on the political left" - Sentientism rules out intra-human discriminations. Racism/homophobia etc. don't belong - Robert Nozick was a vegetarian & a libertarian - And much more. See https://sentientism.info/ or YouTube for full show notes. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/.  Join Josh on our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/ using this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Main one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks to Graham for the post-prod https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
01:08:45
April 28, 2021
49: "I'm concerned with oppression in all its forms" - philosopher Joey Tuminello of Farm Forward, the Better Food Foundation and McNeese University - Sentientist Conversation
Joey (https://josephtuminello.academia.edu/) is asst. professor of philosophy at McNeese State Uni & program coordinator for the nonprofits Farm Forward & Better Food Foundation (See also Default Veg). His research covers philosophies of food, medicine, animals & environment. He teaches biomedical ethics & sections of ethical theory & existentialism. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is also here on YouTube (subscribe there too!). We discuss (full show notes are on YouTube and Sentientism.info): - Growing up in a Catholic household in Louisiana - "Who's your mama, are you Catholic & can you make a roux?" - Questioning religion early on. Developing scepticism. Understanding mechanisms of control in religion & beyond - Hard-core atheist phase & studying philosophy - Non-theism & atheism. Tempered with humility & openness - "Open-mindedness & scepticism go hand in hand" - Deciding not to get confirmed - Attending Catholic high school that didn't welcome questioning & experiencing social adversity - Social justice & hateful interpretations of some religions (e.g. Westboro Baptist Church) - Using religious arguments to justify discriminations - Analytic philosophy & challenging religious inconsistencies - "Ambiguity & tension is part of the human experience" - Humility & open-mindedness needs to be at the core of naturalism - The arrogance in "angry atheism" - Getting comfortable not knowing. With-holding belief until there's evidence - Meta-physics & ethics - "We don't have access to the ultimate nature of reality" but there are still things we can meaningfully say about reality - Experiences are happening. Phenomenology, directed consciousness & the self/non-self - Nagel's "What is it like to be a bat?" - Consciousness, interests that matter and ethics (caring about the interests of others) - Lacking a justification for the exploitation or oppression of others, human or not - The "Embrace The Void" podcast with Joey's friend Aaron - Pre-human morality - Is the choice to be moral simply the choice to care about the perspectives of others - Moral inter-subjectivism. There are moral truths independent of each mind but they do require an interface between subjects - Sentient beings do matter morally, but is sentience the only thing that matters? Is cutting down a tree wrong if it has no impact on sentients? - The risk of anthropocentrism, because humans are defining & assessing sentience. But sentience existed long before & far beyond humans - And much more... see YouTube. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/ using this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Main one is here on FaceBook. Thanks to Graham.
01:13:54
April 24, 2021
48: "Maybe moral systems are harmful! Like religion they are used to divide us." - Walter Veit - philosopher, scientist and sentientist - Sentientist Conversation
Walter (https://twitter.com/wrwveit & https://walterveit.com/) is an interdisciplinary scientist, philosopher & writer focusing on biology, minds & ethics. He publishes the ‘Science & Philosophy‘ series on Psychology Today & Medium. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?" Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." Our conversation is also here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xxSGItuaSn4. We discuss: - Defending Descartes, as a child! - Studying philosophy, politics, economics & science - Writing a PhD on the philosophy of consciousness. How sentience came to arise in a purely physical universe - Growing up in an agnostic family, attending church but "grumbling" - Finding it strange learning about god at school. Asking annoying questions :) - A brief early teenage phase of believing in god, then reverting to atheism - Church seemed like a "weird cult-like thing." "It just didn't make sense." - There are thousands of religions. They can't all be right. Just disbelieving in one more than religious people do - Being a "hard-core naturalist" but still feeling the pull of superstition - Finding naturalism reassuring. Can abandon the "f*cking scary stuff" (monsters, ghosts, hell) - We can just enjoy our lives & explore the universe - The pull of being part of something larger. The universe, a tribe, a sports team fan group... - The hesitation in Germany about collectivism - "It's a peculiar world we live in - it's exciting" - Does morality crumble without the normative force of a god. "A dude in the sky making up laws and we just have to follow them" - People sceptical of morality aren't sceptical about laws. You can break them but there might be consequences - Too much of morality seems arbitrary. But Bentham almost proposed utilitarianism as a sort of science, not morality - Utilitarians in the UK were engaged in politics & in improving the world - Instead of considering morality - just consider the facts re: "What do animals want from their own point of view" - Facts: animals exist. They can be harmed. They don't like suffering - Humans evolved as a social species. That makes us care - "Morality" might create more harms than benefits! - There is no dividing line between humans and other animals because we all have interests - Both morality and religion have been used to divide humans & animals - Even oppressive groups have divided people through an appeal to morality - The deep connection between morality and spirituality/religion. Often naturalists & atheists don't see the danger - Naturalists are attacked for being amoral but are no less moral - And much more... Full show notes are on Sentientism.info. I ran out of space! Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/ using this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist.   Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks, Graham for the post-prod: https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
01:27:05
April 20, 2021
47: "Freedom, equality & avoiding harm to others" - Kristof Dhont - Social Psychologist - Sentientist Conversations
Kristof is a social psychologist and senior lecturer at the university of Kent where he runs SHARKLab (Study of Human InterGroup & Animal Relations). He is the author of "Why We Love and Exploit Animals". We discuss: - The psychology of human-animal relations - Links between sexism, racism & speciesism - "Us humans are weird". We're not fully rational decision makers - Being sceptical of our own rationality - Knowing the right answer isn't the same as persuading others to agree or make changes - Growing up in Belgium, a largely Catholic country but with many who are non-practicing - Attending church, then becoming "strongly atheist" because of evidence, but also "the nasty stuff" (sexism, homophobia, racism) - Being raised with values of compassion & respect. Finding those values in Christianity, other religions and in Humanism - Moving to a more nuanced view of the good and bad in religion - Traditions and rituals have value for some people. As long as they don't cause harm to people outside or within the group - The abuse of power in institutionalised religion - Pre-human proto-morality - We don't need supernatural beliefs to justify compassionate ethics. We just need them too justify harmful ethics - Religious schooling - Being angry with the world as a teenager: religion; capitalism; animal products; injustice - then being led to study human behaviour - Taking teenage rebellion and applying it to social justice activism in academia - Moral intuitions re: "freedom, equality and avoiding harm to others" - Freedom & equality shouldn't just be left wing concerns. They're much more widely shared - Sentience matters re: moral consideration, not intelligence - Are freedom and equality fundamental or important because of how they impact suffering/flourishing? - Caring about animals. Having companion animals as family members - The Meat Paradox - Seeing a family member killing chickens and rabbits - The hardcore punk music scene & Straight Edge. Bands with a clear, constructive message re: politics & animal ethics & anti-fascism (vs. more pessimistic grunge and 1970's punk) - "I can't keep eating meat any more", supported by the positive social pressure of the music scene & friends making the change - Parents initially resisting veg*nism, needing to learn DIY (it's easier now!) - Learning about dairy/eggs & going vegan at University - Wild animal suffering and how to prioritise it vs. animal farming/fishing. The risk of paternalism/hubris - Effective Altruism - Benevolent & hostile sexism - Sentientism's focus on inclusive moral consideration - The challenges of rescue and sanctuary animals and predator companion animals - The default human answer of "kill them all" re: issues with wild animals - Animals don't care what category we put them in. They suffer just the same - And much more... (full notes at https://sentientism.info/) Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/​. Join our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/ ​ using this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism​. Thanks, Graham for the post-prod: https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu.
01:18:32
April 16, 2021
46: "The root of all evil is thinking some suffering doesn't matter" - Jane Velez-Mitchell Unchained - Sentientist Conversation
Jane (https://twitter.com/JVM) is a TV broadcaster, author, journalist & now CEO of the animal rights non-profit Jane Unchained (https://janeunchained.com/). She has written four books, two of which were NY Times bestsellers. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on the Sentientism YouTube. We discuss: - Jane's career in media & journalism & now running a non-profit - Countdown to Year Zero & making the world vegan by 2026 - Near death experiences - Growing up in "showbiz" New York with Puerto Rican/Irish parents - Jane's mother gave up meat early - Thinking the family was vegetarian but eating pescetarian - Going to different churches as an adventure, but when things got serious, going back to Catholicism - Dabbling rather than strong religiosity - "Let your conscience be your guide" - We all know what's wrong and right. The role of guilt, shame & remorse - Recovering from alcoholism. 26 years sober! - Praying every morning "Turn it over - seek guidance". Making the bed every day - "We don't need to have a definition of a higher power - it's just not me" - Ego & self-centredness is the source of so many wrongs - Societal forces claiming that "some suffering doesn't count" are behind most evils. Human & animal - ...And much more. Full show notes at Sentientism.info Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/ using this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism.
01:03:13
April 12, 2021
45: "Children are much less speciesist than adults" - researcher Matti Wilks - Sentientist Conversations
Matti (https://www.mattiwilks.com/ and @matti_wilks) is a post-doctoral researcher at Yale University, working with Professor Paul Bloom. She studies moral psychology & moral development - including attitudes to cultivated meat & the "natural", the moral status of various types of entities & altruism. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: - Doing research to make the world a better place (& curiosity) - Growing up non-religious (w/ ex-Jewish father) & vegetarian - Seeing the benefits & value in religion: Community & compassion - Open-mindedness & humility - The danger of over-confidence in naturalism & science - Researching ve*an children in meat-eating households - Parallels between religious & omnivore societal defaults and indoctrination/norm setting - Many "religious" people don't actually hold to the supernatural beliefs - Why do we have morality & what should morality be about? - Being uncertain about whether there are moral truths - Harm & suffering as inherently bad. The drive to reduce suffering - Haidt et al's Moral Foundations Theory - Even if nothing matters to the universe, experiences matter to each individual sentient being - Would Isaac killing his son have been right? (No) - Isn't choosing whether to care about suffering just choosing whether to be moral? - People seem to be more ethically motivated than they used to be - Even Greenwashing is a sign that more people care about the environment - Public negativity re: factory f