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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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“We’ll look back on this era of humanity as barbaric” – Campaigner CEO Naomi Smith - Sentientist Conversations

Sentientism

“We’ll look back on this era of humanity as barbaric” – Campaigner CEO Naomi Smith - Sentientist Conversations

Sentientism

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"We can't understand humans without recognising that we are animals" - Diana Fleischman - Sentientist Conversations
Dr Diana Fleischman is an evolutionary psychologist & an author. Until recently she was a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth. Her field of research includes the study of disgust, human sexuality, hormones & behaviour. She is involved in the effective altruism & animal welfare movements & identifies as a feminist and a Sentientist. Diana's 2018 Darwin Day Lecture, hosted by Humanists UK, was part of the inspiration for our work developing & raising awareness of Sentientism. You can find Diana at https://twitter.com/sentientist​ (yes!) & https://dianaverse.com/​. Why not join her on our "I'm a Sentientist" wall? https://sentientism.info/sentientist-pledge/diana-fleischman​. 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 available here on YouTube. Don't forget to subscribe and click the bell for notifications. We discuss: - Evolutionary psychology - Effective Altruism - Diana's Darwin Day talk to Humanists UK - Whether Humanists are more likely to be ethical vegans - Whether "carnism" is socialised or a state of nature - Diana's father's German Jewish & Polish family history during WWII & since - "They fell in love because he fed her a lot of food" - Diana's Catholic mother. Being baptised in Portugal - Going to synagogue with Diana's grandfather & Catholic Sunday School - After first communion "I don't like it & I don't believe it" - Going atheist at 9/10 yrs after brother did at 7 - Being fascinated by evolution - "I carried The Evolution Book around like a teddy bear" - Being teased as "Monkey Girl" for believing in evolution. The worst bullies seemed to be the most religious kids - Being told in the early 1990's by a teacher "evolution is controversial - it's not a settled idea" - We skipped the evolution chapter in the Biology textbook - Becoming stridently anti-religious - "I thought we couldn't really understand human beings without understanding that humans are animals" - I met so many wonderful religious people in the vegan movement & became much less aggressively anti-religion - Religious arguments for why we should be compassionate are wrong but that compassion can still have good outcomes - Diana's Hen Do turns into a witches coven - Weeping after being blessed by a minister & being moved by ritual - "I am exactly the kind of person who could fall into religious fervour" - Sam Harris: "Religions shouldn't have a monopoly on reverence" - "Nature is a horrible place" - & much more... (full show notes on YouTube & sentientism.info) Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/​​​​​​​​​​. Join Diana 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. Our main one is here on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism​. Thanks to Graham for his post-prod. Follow him: https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu
50:11
March 5, 2021
"Maybe the point of being is to be loving" - Comedian Myq Kaplan - Sentientist Conversations
Myq is a stand-up comedian (http://myqkaplan.com/​ and https://twitter.com/myqkaplan​). He has performed on the Tonight Show, Conan, the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Seth Meyers, the Late Late Show with James Corden, in his own half-hour Comedy Central Presents special, and in his own one-hour special on Netflix and now Amazon, “Small, Dork, and Handsome.” He has been a finalist on Last Comic Standing and recently appeared on America’s Got Talent. His debut album “Vegan Mind Meld” was one of iTunes’ top 10 comedy albums of the year his latest, "AKA" debuted at #1. He hosts the Broccoli and Ice Cream (metaphorical) and The Faucet podcasts. 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 channel: https://youtu.be/L2bb8zxy4Po  We discuss: - Myq's comedy journey starting out in Boston, then on TV and at the Edinburgh fringe, now on Zoom - Studying philosophy, psychology and linguistics - Learning about Buddhism and Tibetan debate - Was the Buddha an early scientist? - Buddhism seems congruent with scientific understanding - Perception, existence, non-existence and the "selfless" - Impermanence, connectedness and the lack of intrinsic "selfness" - "We are all one, but that's my stereo!" - Batman doesn't exist but the concept of Batman does - Growing up culturally Jewish with a conservative Jewish father - "I wanted you to have something so there wasn't a void that would get filled with a cult" - Being Bar Mitzvah'd for the party and the presents - Music was more central than religion - Pacifism, non-violence and veganism - Is Sentientism "the only moral discrimination"? - The boundaries of sentience - Resenting playing the violin ("wax on") but picking up the guitar easily ("blocking"). See the Karate Kid - Flow states. How comedy and music can help us connect communally - Playing the game you're given vs. choosing which game you want to play - "I feel like the universe is telling me to do something"... "Isn't that just your brain"... "And my brain is part of the universe." - "It's all universe" - "Jamie is not Myq but we're both universe" - Kicking back against religion and identifying as atheist: "If God is all powerful and kind then what is going on?" - Metta loving kindness meditation - Love and compassion, happiness and suffering - Being terrified of death. Imagining not existing - And much more! 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 on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism
01:22:38
March 1, 2021
"Us humans are slow learners" - Kim Stallwood - author & scholar - Sentientist Conversation
Kim is an animal rights author, independent scholar, consultant, and speaker. He has 45 years of personal commitment as a vegan and professional experience in leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost animal advocacy organisations. The Kim Stallwood Archive is held by The British Library. He wrote Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate with a Foreword by Brian May (Lantern Books, 2014). He is currently working on the biography of an elephant called Topsy. He became a vegetarian in 1974 after working in a chicken slaughterhouse and a vegan in 1976. You can find Kim at https://kimstallwood.com/​, https://twitter.com/grumpyvegan​ and https://www.instagram.com/kim_stallwood/ You can find the video of our conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube Channel, along with full show notes.​ 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." We discuss: - Growing up in Surrey in a working class, Church of England community - Joining the RSPCA and being against animal cruelty as a family - Working in a chicken slaughter-house in 1973. An experience that changed everything - Going vegetarian in 1974, only knowing 2 vegetarians - Arguments with mum about going vegetarian + her going veggie without Kim noticing - Going vegan (with mum, then family) in 1976 - Being the 2nd employee at Compassion in World Farming, then a lifetime in animal advocacy - Theosophy's themes of connectedness and opposing animal cruelty - Learning philosophy as an animal advocate - Making a clear break from Christianity - Having a personal belief system: 4 key values, but not labelling with any spiritual system - Camberley Kate's care for non-humans and feeling outrage over how we treat other animals - Compassion as the first key value. Identifying with the experience of other sentient beings and being motivated to help - And much more...! 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 on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism.
52:17
February 24, 2021
Talking to Humanist animals about other animals (and sentient beings) - A talk about Sentientism to the Dorset Humanists Group
I gave this presentation to a meeting of the Dorset Humanist Group in the UK. It was a pleasure to be invited to talk and I really enjoyed the energetic and constructive discussion that followed. Don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already - listen to our back catalogue - give us a rating and/or a review - and recommend us to your friends (and enemies). Given the audience were mostly Humanists I focused this presentation on how Sentientism extends Humanist concepts of evidence, reason and compassion. Many of those outside the Humanist tradition might prefer to consider Sentientism afresh - given that sentience was around long before humanity even existed. If you'd like a copy of the presentation materials, get in touch via https://sentientism.info/​ or visit one of our online Sentientism communities. You can also watch a video of my talk here on the Sentientism YouTube channel. You can find the Dorset Humanists at https://dorset.humanist.org.uk/wp/​, their YouTube channel (includes a recording of the Q+A that followed this presentation) is here.​ and they're on Twitter at @DorsetHumanists​. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/​​​​​​​​​. Join our "wall"​ using this form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. ​Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our biggest is here on FaceBook.
44:47
February 19, 2021
"Every individual matters" - Marc Bekoff and Compassionate Conservation - Sentientist Conversation
Marc is professor emeritus of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published  31 books, won many awards for his research on animal behavior, animal emotions, compassionate conservation, & animal protection, has worked closely with Jane Goodall, & is a former Guggenheim Fellow. Marc's latest books are "Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do" & "Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible" (with Jessica Pierce) & he also publishes regularly for Psychology Today. Marc & Jessica have recently written "A Dog's World" about what the world will be like for dogs as & when humans disappear (Princeton University Press, 2021). In 1986 Marc won the Master's age-graded Tour de France. His homepage is https://marcbekoff.com/. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is "evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube, along with full show notes. We discuss: - Growing up in Brooklyn & not being a strong student in high-school - Talking to a companion goldfish & the neighbourhood animals - Imagining perpectives of non-human animals: "Minding animals" - Seeming bizarre to question the sentience of non-human animals - Selling records, undergrad degree, then a career using animal play behaviour as a window into the animal perspective - Michael Fox's work with canids & becoming his grad student - Nagel's "What is it like to be a bat?" - Donald Griffin's "The question of animal awareness" & "Animal Minds" - Animal protection as a lifelong focus - Getting academics out of the clouds and into helping - Growing up in a culturally Jewish home with Russian Jewish immigrant grandparents, but being an atheist from day one - "I never doubted that non-human animals had feelings" (Luna barks in agreement) ... and much more! 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 on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work. Follow him: https://twitter.com/cgbessellieu​
58:30
February 16, 2021
"If you hand most people a knife they won't stab a cow!" - John Oberg - Sentientist Conversation
John is a professional animal advocate & public speaker. You can support his work at https://www.patreon.com/JohnOberg​ and follow him at https://twitter.com/JohnOberg​. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”  Sentientism is "evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings." Full show notes and the video of our conversation are here: https://youtu.be/UTZlwC4nHq8 We discuss: - John's career in animal advocacy and vegan advocacy - "It's been the best change of my life - it's given my live a lot of meaning & I've made a big difference for animals." - Helping other advocates & organisations to be effective via social media - Messages being seen by 10's of millions of human eyes - Growing up in the mid-West, but in a fairly non-religious context - We generally assumed God exists, but it was rarely talked about - Thinking at 14 "This doesn't make any sense - I'm an atheist!" - Going through a "militant" atheist phase - then softening to just being open minded... "I don't rule anything out" - The challenges of coping with family illness & death. Recognising the pull of the hope of an afterlife - Given there are so many thousands of religions, amazing how someone can be so sure theirs is the right one. It's just what they were taught as a child - How the "golden rule" & broad themes of compassion pre-date, then run through most religions - How naturalism needs to be humble & open minded (even to crazy ideas) - Avoiding the arrogance of dogma even within atheist/skeptic/naturalistic worldviews - Withholding belief until there's evidence. Being comfortable not knowing until then - "A Meaningful Life" and "The Animal Activist's Handbook" by Matt Ball, founder of Vegan Outreach - The meaning of life is about 2 things: The pursuit of pleasure and joy and the avoidance of pain and suffering (the latter being more important) - And more.. You can find John at https://twitter.com/JohnOberg​, https://www.facebook.com/JohnObergOfficial​ and https://www.johnoberg.org. You can support him via Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/JohnOberg​. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/​​​​​​. Join our "wall" https://sentientism.info/wall/​ using this simple form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientientist. ​Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here on FaceBook​. ​Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work. Follow him: @cgbessellieu
42:45
February 10, 2021
“Vet training reduces empathy for animals” – Vet Kevin Saldanha – New Sentientist Conversation
Kevin is a community vet, based in Ontario, Canada. He grew up in East Africa & Goa, India & then moved to Canada. He has held leadership roles, originally in Catholic community organisations &, more recently, Humanist community organisations. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” Full show notes are here: https://sentientism.info/vet-training-reduces-empathy-for-animals-vet-kevin-saldhana-new-sentientist-conversation The video version of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: Growing up in a Roman Catholic Christian, meat-eating family in Goa, India and in East Africa The centrality of Catholicism to the community Praying for exam success Moving to Canada and becoming deeply embedded in the local religious community (inc. The Knights of Columbus) Discussing animal ethics with a priest “do they have souls and an afterlife?” Rejecting the homophobia of the Knights of Columbus & Catholicism Considering the impossibility of “souls” 9/11 as a trigger for re-considering Kevin’s religion, morality and purpose Telling Kevin’s story in the book “Faith beyond belief” Studying science and evolution as a vet, but keeping it separate from faith The social challenges of leaving religion (leadership roles, social circles) Most friends are still friends. They pray for Kevin’s soul and his return to Catholicism Rejecting not just religious, but all supernatural beliefs Lacking atheist role models IRL, getting past the militant atheist groups, but finding connections re: Humanism online & then in person Leading a Humanist group for over a decade People returning to religion because of a wish for simple ethical standards and a comforting community and roadmap of rituals for their family Vet school is oriented towards non-human animal agriculture where harming & killing animals is normalised And more... You can find Kevin at @vegvet or on Facebook here. Kevin’s veterinary practice is at 567vets.com. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Why not help Kevin to normalise rationality and compassion by joining him on our “wall” using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here on FaceBook. Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work. Follow him: @cgbessellieu
49:00
February 6, 2021
"It's frustrating that so many atheists & humanists are proud of having broken one form of indoctrination yet remain blind to another" - Godless Spellchecker - Sentientism cross-post bonus episode
This episode is a cross-post from the Godless Spellchecker Podcast where Steven Knight interviewed me (Jamie) about Sentientism. We started our conversation by discussing an incident where I was attacked in front of my daughter by a white supremacist gang (it was ages ago and we're both fine thanks). That doesn't have too much to do with Sentientism and contains some strong language, so I've left it out of this version. If you'd like to hear it, you can find it on the Godless Spellchecker feed. Stephen's podcast focuses on atheism, secularism, freedom of belief and speech. As a fellow vegan, Stephen seems to fit the Sentientist mould, although he's hesitant about layering specific ethical commitments on top of naturalism, atheism or humanism. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Why not join our “wall” using our simple “I’m a Sentientist” form? Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook. We have a fascinating range of compassionate, rational people there from around 90 countries so far!
39:03
February 3, 2021
"Vegan stuff is going to be hot!" - Dr. Corey Lee Wrenn - Sentientist Conversations
Corey Lee Wrenn is a UK-based American sociologist and scholar of social movements and human-nonhuman relations. She is a lecturer in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent. Corey says: “The magnitude of nonhuman suffering is such that activists can’t afford to take chances. My work is designed to take the guesswork out of social movement mobilization and animal rights activism, and I need your help to implement the findings.” Full show notes are here: https://sentientism.info/vegan-stuff-is-going-to-be-hot-sociologist-corey-lee-wrenn-new-sentientist-conversation The video of our conversation is on Sentientism YouTube here. In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” We discuss (and much more): - The Vegan Feminist Network, The Vegan Society - Corey’s books: “A Rational Approach to Animal Rights“, “Piecemeal Protests”, Animal Rights in Ireland, Vegan Sociology, Vegan Feminism - Growing up atheist in the american “bible belt” south, surrounded by deeply religious culture and family - A cousin gifting a bible saying “I’m worried about your soul!” - Reading the bible – “a lot of animal killing… this isn’t for me” - The sociological concern about whether urbanisation and the de-emphasis of religion might leave a moral vacuum (e.g. Durkheim) - Being “a child of the human rights project” – individual freedoms (e.g. from suffering), equality, social justice - Mishka joins our conversation 🐶 - First animal protest at 8 years old “I crawled under my bed and wouldn’t come out” re: animal shelter euthanasia - Drawing pictures showing the turkey’s perspective at Thanksgiving - Growing up in a meat-eating, hunting culture as the “lone Appalachian vegan” - Vegetarian at 13 when realised “That was an actual animal” - Vegan on first day at university after leaving home - Granting moral consideration to all sentient beings regardless of category... You can find Corey at coreyleewrenn.com, here on FaceBook and @DrCoreyLeeWrenn. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/​​​​. Join our “wall” ​using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Our biggest (~90 countries so far) is here on FaceBook. ​ Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work. Follow him: @cgbessellieu.
01:19:42
January 30, 2021
“Change is possible but hard” – Jeff Sebo – Author, Activist, Philosopher – Sentientist Conversation
Jeff Sebo is Clinical Assoc. Prof. of Environmental Studies, Affiliated Professor of Bioethics, Medical Ethics, & Philosophy, & Director of the Animal Studies M.A. Program at New York University. He is on the executive committee at the NYU Center for Environmental & Animal Protection & the advisory board for the Animals in Context series at NYU Press. He is a board member at Animal Charity Evaluators, a board member at Minding Animals International, an Exec. Cttee. member at the Animals & Society Institute, and a Senior Fellow at Sentient Media. Full show notes are here https://sentientism.info/change-is-possible-but-hard-jeff-sebo-author-activist-academic-new-sentientist-conversation In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” The audio will also be on our Podcast – subscribe on Apple here & most other platforms via Anchor. We discuss: Jeff’s background in moral & political philosophy & his shift to focus on animal & environmental ethics Multi-disciplinary approaches Using academia to drive real change Growing up in a Christian household & connecting with religious community (e.g. leading youth groups) Considering going into ministry College at Texas Christian University (liberal arts focus, but many conservative Christian students) Facing a wave of challenges to religious beliefs & having a major faith crisis “I never really believed the Christian stuff in the first place as much as I thought I did… in fact, I was just invested in the community.” A reactionary atheism phase: “God is dead, life is absurd!” Re-constructing a more generous interpretation of religious & scientific beliefs Deep humility re: the fundamental nature of reality The limits to empirical testing. There might be truths beyond those limits “Use evidence & reason to study what we can but recognise that they will not be able to grasp everything of interest in the world” And much more... Follow Jeff at @jeffrsebo​ & find him at jeffsebo.net​ Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/​​​​. Join our “wall” ​using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Our biggest (~90 countries so far) is here on FaceBook. ​​ Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work. Follow him: @cgbessellieu.
57:53
January 27, 2021
“Imagining a better future through our everyday decisions” – Podcaster and academic Claudia Hirtenfelder – Sentientist Conversation
Claudia Hirtenfelder is a PhD Candidate in Geography at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. She is host of The Animal Turn Podcast (Subscribe!) In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. Full show notes are here: https://sentientism.info/imagining-a-better-future-through-our-everyday-decisions-podcaster-and-academic-claudia-hirtenfelder-new-sentientist-conversation We discuss: Doing The Animal Turn podcast as a way of learning about animal studies Growing up non-religious but in a Christian context in South Africa (school, society) Loving confirmation camp & the church community Enjoying the easy answers of star signs Asking questions of the church and challenging religion. “Why do bad things happen?”… “Mysterious ways!” Eventually identifying as an atheist Gravitating towards being more anti-theist “If there is a god, why is he so shitty?”, while still respecting people who are religious Rejecting religion because of ethics & evidence/reason Hesitating about whether reason is “everything” (vs. significance of emotion) Emotions can cause problems, but so can being too calculating… Social realities How is the idea of rational thought operationalised. It’s not perfect or free of context Supposedly “rational” thinking has been used to cause terrible harms The need for humility and scepticism, even of our own rationality Different types of evidence, including personal lived experience Subjective experiences as part of one objective reality Awe, wonder & connectedness even within a naturalistic world view Luna the puppy (no longer really a puppy) comments on our discussion And much more here You can find Claudia at @ClaudiaFTowne & The Animal Turn here​. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/​​​. Join our “wall” ​ using this simple “I’m a Sentientist” form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here on FaceBook.​ Thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-prod work. Give him a follow!
01:07:19
January 24, 2021
"Breeding into suffering is the root of the problem." - Sentient Media founder Mikko Järvenpää - Sentientist Conversations
Mikko is a tech start-up founder and CEO (now https://candle.to/​). He founded & is now board chair of Sentient Media - an organisation dedicated to making the world a better place for all sentient beings through journalism. Full show notes are here: https://sentientism.info/breeding-into-suffering-is-the-root-of-the-problem-sentient-media-founder-mikko-jarvenpaa-new-sentientist-conversation In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is "evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube. We discuss: Growing up in a political family (father a Finnish Member of Parliament) Early experiences with animals on the family hobby farm Founding Sentient Media & how farmed animal perspectives are neglected in normal media Studying philosophy of social change at the LSE The default state Lutheran religion in Finland, including religious education Learning science, evolution, astronomy as a child Finding religions fascinating & getting perfect marks in religious classes (great stories!) Learning to read from Dungeons & Dragons manuals The relief of formally resigning from the church as a teenager (w/ cooling off period) Evidence & ethics as triggers for challenging religion Reading Nietzsche at 16 Trying on different religions. What would it feel like to believe? Is picking a religion arbitrary, like picking a sports team? Being overwhelmed by the idea of solipsism at ~10 yrs old Morality as something fundamentally social Utilitarianism. Measurement, probability, individualism, rationalism as “western”? Sentientism’s neutrality re: moral systems Early utilitarians often did consider non-human sentience Utility grounded in sentience “My best friends, as a kid, were the sheep.” Making assumptions about sheeep. Then being accepted as part of the herd. Deepening understanding of “sheepness” And much more. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at sentientism.info. Join our “wall” using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our biggest is here on FaceBook. Thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-prod work on this video. Follow him at @cgbessellieu.
01:06:24
January 21, 2021
Two for Tea - Sentientism cross-post bonus episode (me being grilled by a Zoroastrian, unabashedly speciesist meat-eater...)
This is a bonus cross-post episode from the Two for Tea podcast where I (Jamie) was interviewed about Sentientism. Two for Tea is a podcast about politics, culture and society by Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose. Make sure you subscribe to their podcast as well as mine! They host thoughtful conversations with a fascinating range of guests. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Why not join our “wall” using our simple “I’m a Sentientist” form? Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook. We have a fascinating range of compassionate, rational people there from around 90 countries so far!
01:42:12
January 18, 2021
"A Fabulous Vegan Future!" - Jasmin Singer, Author & Activist - Sentientist Conversations
Jasmin Singer is the author of “The VegNews Guide to Being a Fabulous Vegan” and the memoir “Always Too Much and Never Enough“. She’s the co-founder & co-host of the award-winning Our Hen House podcast & nonprofit (now in its eleventh year), the Director of Editorial for Kinder Beauty, & the editor of the Encompass Essays: “Pursuing Racial Equity in Animal Advocacy”. Jasmin was named a “40 Under 40” by The Advocate Magazine, a top “Eco-Preneur” by Go Magazine & can be seen in documentaries including “Vegucated” & “The Ghosts In Our Machine”. Full show notes are here: https://sentientism.info/a-fabulous-vegan-future-jasmin-singer-new-sentientist-conversation The video version of our conversation is here on YouTube. In these Sentientist Conversations (subscribe!), we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” We discuss: Jasmin’s activist journey & roles (& books) Gaslighting re: animal agriculture 1980’s milk & meat marketing Atheism, naturalism, comparative religion Compassion in religion, but also serious ethical problems Growing up as a reform Jew, celebrating Christmas & Hannukah The mental gymnastics more “moderate” religions (like reform Judaism) have to do to move away from the harmful ethics at the core of many religions Humanism’s focus on the human species Do kids start out naturalistic and then get taught fabrications? And much more... You can find Jasmin at @jasmin_singer & jasminsinger.com. Subscribe to Our Hen House as well as to the Sentientism podcast! Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at sentientism.info. Join our “wall” using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here on FaceBook. Thanks to @cgbessellieu for his post-prod work.
53:41
January 18, 2021
"How can I have been morally asleep for so long?" - Prof Randall Abate - Sentientist Conversation
Randall is an author and environmental, animal, climate and constitutional law professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey. His books include “What Can Animal Law Learn From Environmental Law?” and “Climate Change and the Voiceless: Protecting Future Generations, Wildlife, and Natural Resources”. In these Sentientist Conversations (subscribe!), we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” Full show notes here: https://sentientism.info/how-can-i-have-been-morally-asleep-for-so-long-prof-randall-abate-new-sentientist-conversation Watch the video here.  We discuss: Academic silos between animal/environmental/constitutional law and between law, philosophy and advocacy The disconnect between environmental and animal ethics and law Growing up in a Catholic household, more social than spiritual Appreciating religion as a topic of study, not as something to practice Exploring Eastern religions and spirituality Feeling deeply spiritual without religion Compassion as a theme in many religions Remaining open-minded about religious ideas Agnosticism and atheism Awe, wonder and connectedness within a naturalistic worldview and their commonality with supernatural/spiritual emotions Freedom of belief, but not freedom to use supernatural beliefs to harm others Compassion for all living things & respect for nature, but not realising the link to animal product consumption (even as an environmental law professor) until teaching animal law “How can I have been morally asleep for so long?” The brain-washing of animal product consumption: health, normality Not knowing any v*gans The difficult social process of giving up animal products How much easier going v*gan is now Is the ethical argument re: animal farming over? Anthropocentrism & human supremacy Biocentrism & ecocentrism. Does Sentientism go far enough? Instrumental vs. intrinsic value Christian dominion & stewardship And more... (see here) You can find Randall here at Monmouth. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at sentientism.info. Join our “wall” using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here on FaceBook. Thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-prod work on this video. Follow him at @cgbessellieu.
01:06:60
January 14, 2021
“De-centring the human” – Robot (and other non-human) Rights author Josh Gellers - Sentientist Conversation
Josh Gellers is an associate professor at the University of North Florida. His work spans animal, environmental and artificial intelligence ethics and law. He is a research fellow with the Earth System Governance Project and is a Fulbright scholar. He is Author of “Rights for Robots: Artificial Intelligence, Animal and Environmental Law” (open access!). Full show notes are here: https://sentientism.info/de-centring-the-human-new-sentientist-conversation-with-josh-gellers-also-happy-new-year In these Sentientist Conversations (subscribe!), we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” Our conversation is also here on YouTube. We discuss: Seeing the impact of climate first hand in South Florida Spanning “hard” and social sciences, rights, ethics and law, animal, environmental and artificial intelligence… inter-disciplinary Sophia the robot and non-human entity rights Growing up in a culturally Jewish household, with a mix of conservative religious and more secular liberal perspectives Doubting religion from an early age How could there be an omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving god when there is so much suffering? Seeing examples of sexism and societal shaming within orthodox religion Kosher laws as historic public health recommendations Exposure to Buddhist animal ethics in Sri Lanka (living with spiders) “Other ways of knowing and worlding” and pluralism Wanting to say there are certain universals, but hesitating to say “I have the right way” Guilt and consciousness about how to be in the world Learning, respecting, humility, open-mindedness, compassion Doing the above without slipping into a relativism that allows the powerful to oppress others Critical environmental ethic with underlying pillars: Compassionate, resilience, sensitivity to the needs of others – ground rules as a safety net vs. relativism Needlessly causing harm isn’t compassionate, whatever your cultural norms People who care about people they know and people who care about people they don’t know And more... Full show notes are here: https://sentientism.info/de-centring-the-human-new-sentientist-conversation-with-josh-gellers-also-happy-new-year Josh is @JoshGellers and his home page is at joshgellers.com. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at sentientism.info. Join our “wall” using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here on FaceBook.
01:16:25
January 11, 2021
"Diverse sentients could live in mutual symbiosis" - Artist Graham Bessellieu - Sentientist Conversations
Full show notes at: https://sentientism.info/diverse-sentients-could-live-in-mutual-symbiosis-graham-bessellieu-new-sentientist-conversation. The video is here on the Sentientism YouTube channel. Graham is an artist, a photographer and a video/audio content producer. In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” We discuss: Being raised Christian Going from a soprano to a bass during a church choir tour Love and compassion as central to Christian ethics Eternal torture in hell maybe isn’t ethical – a trigger for re-thinking Comparative religion, logical contradictions The weakness of theodicies (explanations for evil) New Atheism, Dennett, Harris and naturalism Are most religious people more moral than their religions? A naturalistic grounding for ethics Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation”. Developing ethics through evidence and reason Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” and factory farming Earthlings, the documentary How ethical conviction helped Graham work through the practical and social challenges of giving up animal products How some of the most fundamental philosophical challenges have the simplest answers, but social norms get in the way Is animal farming a “necessary evil”? Our non-human animal friends make a cameo appearance The amazing ethical gymnastics people do to try and justify continuing to consume animal products (toddler farming anyone?) Normalising rationality and sentiocentrism. Getting them to be mainstream Why people should adopt Sentientism quickly while it’s still edgy and cool Clean meat and plant-based meats Ending animal farming and exploitation and using sanctuaries as part of transition Zoonotic disease risks The common ground, even a political majority, re: ending factory farming: Sentience Politics, Cory Bookers’ farm bill Extending legal personhood to non-humans Mitigating wild animal suffering (see Animal Ethics and Wild Animal Initiative orgs) Difficult problems and uncertain solutions don’t justify excluding sentient beings from moral consideration Effective Altruism – how to do the most good David Deutsch & “The Beginning of Infinity”… Getting to better problems Steven Pinker & “Enlightenment Now” ...and more... Full show notes here Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Join hundreds of others on our “wall” using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook. Thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-prod work on this video. Follow him at @cgbessellieu.
36:35
January 8, 2021
"Being in balance with ourselves and the rest of the living world" - Author Gill Coombs - Sentientist Conversation
Gill is an author, coach & counsellor. She was a UK parliamentary candidate for the Green Party. She focuses on helping people live in balance with themselves & the rest of the living world. Her books include “The Trembling Warrior”, “Hearing our Calling” & “The Game”. In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.” Full show notes are at https://sentientism.info/being-in-balance-with-ourselves-and-the-biosphere-author-gill-coombs-new-sentientist-conversation. The video of our conversation is here on the Sentientism YouTube. You can find Gill at gillcoombs.co.uk and on Twitter at @CoombsGill. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Join hundreds of others on our “wall” using this simple form. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook. Thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-prod work on this video. Follow him at @cgbessellieu.
01:08:08
January 4, 2021
"The only moral discrimination?" - Future Based - Sentientism cross-post bonus episode
This episode is a cross-post from the Future Based Podcast where Annika van den Born interviewed me (Jamie) about Sentientism. The podcast is part of the Future Based initiative that aims to facilitate inter-disciplinary discussions and collaborations about our collective future. Annika and I discuss how naturalism and sentiocentrism come together in Sentientism. We talk about the risks of environmental movements extending their moral circles too far (biocentrism, ecocentrism or holism) while ignoring sentient non-human animals. We also talk about what a Sentientist utopia might look and how we might move towards it. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Why not join our “wall” using our simple “I’m a Sentientist” form? Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook. We have a fascinating range of compassionate, rational people there from around 90 countries so far!
47:11
December 30, 2020
“How can we do the most good for non-human animals?” - Jamie Harris – Animal Advocacy Careers co-founder & Sentience Institute Researcher - Sentientist Conversations
Full show notes are here: https://sentientism.info/how-can-we-do-the-most-good-for-non-human-animals-jamie-harris-animal-advocacy-careers-co-founder-sentience-institute-researcher-new-sentientist-conversation You can find the video of our conversation here https://youtu.be/ea_v6kWCGZQ Jamie is co-founder of and researcher at the non-profit Animal Advocacy Careers, a researcher at the Sentience Institute and host of the Sentience Institute Podcast (subscribe!) In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is “evidence, commitment and compassion for all sentient beings.” Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Help normalise compassion and rationality by joining our “wall” using this simple form https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-prod work on this video. Follow him @cgbessellieu.
01:08:58
December 28, 2020
"Let's end humanity's war on the rest of the planet" - Better Meat CEO & Hall of Famer Paul Shapiro - Sentientist Conversations
Paul Shapiro https://twitter.com/PaulHShapiro is the author of the national bestseller "Clean Meat": https://cleanmeat.com/. He's also the CEO of The Better Meat Co. https://www.bettermeat.co/, a four-time TEDx speaker, host of the Business for Good Podcast https://www.businessforgoodpodcast.com/ & inductee in the Animal Rights Hall of Fame.  In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is "evidence, commitment and compassion for all sentient beings." https://sentientism.info/ Our conversation is also on our YouTube channel - subscribe there too! https://youtu.be/8oupdUTrS18 We discuss: - Being fellow "sents" (thanks AJ Jacobs!) - Advocating Sentientism before hearing the term - Vegetarian then vegan at 13 in 1993 (despite thinking it would lead to death...) - Carl Lewis as an inspirational vegan - Volunteering in animal protection as a teenager - "Trying to end humanity's war on the rest of the planet" - Founding Compassion over Killing at high-school & taking it national - https://www.humanesociety.org/ - Paul's "Clean Meat" book - how food tech might do the most good - Easier to act our way into a new way of thinking than to think our way into a new way of acting. Making unethical practices obselete - Ending slavery as a lesson in social change - Founding The Better Meat Co - Jewish upbringing & identity - "Even if you question the supernatural they don't kick you out" - An animal conscious family. Rescue dogs as family members (now Eddie https://www.instagram.com/eddiethepittie.) - Switching to take the perspective of non-humans + standing up to "frog baseball" - Compassion as a moral foundation - Being kicked out of Hebrew class for asking why god would ask for sacrifices - The rich tradition of animal compassion/veg*nism within Judaism - Israel as the #2 most vegan country - Utilitarianism & Peter Singer - "anti suffering & pro happiness" - Loving kindness meditation - Aspiring to The Paradoxical Commandments - Evolution isn't perfectly driven towards truth or rationality - Groups can socially reward individual faith in fictions. Some delusions can be useful - Humility at the heart of naturalism & science. Being OK not knowing - The confidence that can come with ignorance - Leaving the world a better place - Not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good - The ethical inertia of social norms & traditions - The Honour Code http://appiah.net/books/the-honor-code/ - Animal farming will be condemned by future generations - Consistent US voting against poor farming practices. Need that codified into law & corporate policy - Cost reduction pressure worsens farm conditions - Tech can render exploitative practices obselete (like cars re: horses, kerosene re: whales, pens vs. quills) - Fast, cheap, easy alternatives likely to reduce more suffering than ethics - It's hard to condemn a system you're still part of - The moral argument has already been won re: ending animal farming - People buy food mainly because of price, taste, convenience (not ethics or env.) - Business for Good vs. ending capitalism? Purpose and/or profit?
55:13
December 24, 2020
Give Yourself The Chat - Sentientism cross-post bonus episode
This episode is a cross-post from the Give Yourself The Chat podcast where I (Jamie) was interviewed about Sentientism. Peter Lewis is a coach, consultant and, as we found out in this conversation, a fellow Sentientist. Peter's podcast focuses on personal development and practical philosophy. If that sounds interesting - why not subscribe to the podcast and sign up for his mailing list at https://peterlewiscoaching.com/? Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Why not join our “wall” using our simple “I’m a Sentientist” form? Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook. We have a fascinating range of compassionate, rational people there from around 90 countries so far!
42:52
December 19, 2020
“Humans might one day need to beg AIs for our sentient rights” – AI expert Roman Yampolskiy – Sentientist Conversations
Full show notes & links here. Roman is a Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Louisville. He is known for his work on behavioral biometrics, the security of cyberworlds & artificial intelligence safety. He founded the field of intellectology – the analysis of the forms & limits of intelligence. He is director of the Cyber Security Laboratory in the department of Computer Engineering &Computer Science at the Speed School of Engineering. Roman has written over 100 publications, including many books spanning these fields. In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” To catch the cameo from Luna the puppy ("seems conscious") watch the video of our conversation here. Don't forget to subscribe to our channel while you're there. We discuss: Growing up in the Soviet Union. Not much religion around. Not meeting anyone religious until coming to the US as an adult Not finding religious arguments interesting or compelling Fascination with intersection of big ideas, philosophy, science Questions can come from religion, but standards of evidence come from science Comfort with others holding supernatural beliefs – helps us remain open-minded Is god analogous with someone running a world simulation? We need to get better at evaluating evidence. Should be separate from theories/hypotheses The need for scientific humility Deep fakes Freedom as an ethical foundation, subject to not hurting others or restricting the freedom of others Can we develop a pop-up AI that guides our ethics? Consciousness / sentience warrants protection Can Artificial Intelligences achieve consciousness or even super-consciousness? Humans might need to beg future AIs for our rights, as we grant rights to animals The hypocrisy of thinking animals should have rights, but enjoying eating them (theory vs. practice & cognitive dissonance) Why so many AI researchers are ready to acknowledge AI sentience but forget or disregard non-human animal sentience Consciousness, sentience, qualia, the “Hard Problem”, David Chalmers Assessing sentience The role of observers in quantum physics. Could there be some non-material element of consciousness? Meeting Luna the puppy “Seems conscious!” Will future AIs warrant protection/rights Ending animal farming to set a good example to our future AI overlords AIs will prefer “sentientism” to “humanism” Substrate independence Sentience/consciousness as a spectrum, simple to super (beyond human) Ethical challenges with non-sentient AI If human agents can’t agree (value alignment problem), can we even move towards a shared environment that will make us all happy? Maybe everyone could have their own individual virtual world! Even a positively negotiated shared environment wouldn’t be as good for each of us as a perfect individual environment – just don’t switch it off Can animal farming go away in a few years via clean-meat etc? Veganism and moral resolutions to cognitive dissonance, vs. tech alternatives removing blockers The dangers of disenfranchising humans if we grant rights too broadly (e.g. to trillions of bacteria or sentient AIs) Equal vs. degrees of moral consideration “Most of us will be as ethical as our choices”.
38:51
December 15, 2020
"As a vet I felt helpless" - Vicky Bond, Managing Director of Humane League UK - Sentientist Conversations
Vicky is Managing Director of The Humane League UK . She trained as a vet and worked in the animal agriculture industry before leaving to focus on campaigning for non-human animals. In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Full show notes and links here. This conversation is also available here on our Sentientism YouTube Channel. Why not subscribe there too? We discuss: - Feeling an early affinity with animals, volunteering at animal sanctuaries at 10 years old, always wanting to be a vet - Training as a vet, seeing the reality of animal farming & feeling helpless. How vets are caught up in the machinery of the industry - How broken animal agriculture is & how much suffering is caused - Leaving to advocate for animals, with CIFW then Humane League UK - Driving institutional change. Working with companies to reduce the animal suffering they cause at scale - The relief of meeting others that take sentience & suffering seriously - Questioning then leaving Christianity as a teenager & the death of a close family member as a turning point - Finding comfort in naturalism. “We have our time & then it passes” - Naturalistic wonder, awe, meaning & a sense of connection, enhanced through a silent meditation retreat (vs. “spirituality”) - Suffering/flourishing of others as the foundation of morality - Meditation as a practice of focusing on our own sentient experience and feeling gratitude - Relativism & supernatural ethics are arbitrary vs. grounding ethics in a naturalistic understanding of sentience - Going vegetarian (despite challenges from parents re: nutrition) - The shock of watching an artificial insemination unit operate - Fighting cognitive dissonance on the way to going vegan + how much it helps to have others around you to help ease the transition - Visiting Ghana as an eye opener re: global development & the history of colonialism - Considering the ethical impacts of our personal consumption - Cognitive dissonance as a way of protecting ourselves given the scale of suffering. Avoiding burn-out - The Diving Bell & the Butterfly - Taking the perspective of others, rather than just imposing your own assumptions - Wild-animal suffering & flourishing. Nature programmes as “snuff movies” - Categorising an animal as “farmed” or “wild” doesn’t reduce the animals’ experience of its own suffering - Red vs. grey squirrels - Not knowing how to help doesn’t warrant excluding beings from our moral circle - Culling as the default for human intervention in the wild - Ending animal farming as an obvious win-win-win - Important problems are often the easiest (e.g. end animal farming) - Animal farming change is happening fast now (e.g. ending cages) & consumer consciousness is shifting - Veganism getting less “weird”, approaching a tipping point? - Concern for species is mostly about human interests - Economic & social drivers slowing change - “Lesser developed countries” leap-frogging past the mistakes made by “more developed countries” on both climate & animal agriculture, because of more compassionate values and more radical innovation - While you’re participating in something, it’s hard to think clearly about its ethics - Freeing our latent morality! - A more socialist future?
54:21
December 11, 2020
“No victim, no problem!” – Floris van den Berg - Activist Vegan Atheist Philosopher - Sentientist Conversations
Visit Sentientism.info (click here) for full show notes! Subscribe to the Sentientism YouTube channel to watch the video of our conversation. Floris’s bio states he is “a philosopher and therefore an atheist”. He is a practical, activist, vegan philosopher. He has written a number of books including “Philosophy for a Better World”, “On Green Liberty”, “De vrolijke veganist” (“The Happy Vegan”) and “Hoe komen we van religie af?” (“How to get rid of religion. An inconvenient liberal paradox”). In 2017, Floris participated in a television series “To Hell With Your Religion”, in which he lived with a group of people of various religions for two weeks, exploring and critiquing religious ideas. In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” You can find Floris’s books on Amazon & here. After our conversation, Floris kindly shared a series of posters he has developed that relate to Sentientist themes. These posters, hosted here, remain Floris’ intellectual property but he is happy with them being freely used for educational purposes. Floris is on our “Sentientist wall” – why not join him there in helping to normalise compassionate, rational thinking? Just fill out this simple form. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook. Many thanks to Graham for his work on this video. Follow him at @cgbessellieu. We discuss: - The imperative to reduce suffering, human & non-human, present & future - Growing up in a liberal Catholic environment - Hiding from Jesus 🙂 - Never believing, then finding out that’s called “atheism” - Finding the label “Humanism”, adding values - Studying Zen Buddhism in a Japanese monastery - Hell isn’t compassionate - Religious compassion often conditional & restricted & subject to higher priorities (the collective, a god, the church…) - Individuals can experience, collectives can’t - Not objectivist, not relativist, but a universalist (e.g. slavery is wrong & it was always wrong & it will always be wrong) - A universal focus on individual victims - Peter Singer - Vegetarianism & veganism And more here!
55:13
December 9, 2020
“We’ll look back on this era of humanity as barbaric” – Campaigner CEO Naomi Smith - Sentientist Conversations
Naomi is the CEO of Best for Britain, the UK’s leading non-partisan advocacy group upholding internationalist values. Before her campaigning and political career she worked in the corporate world and chaired a number of voluntary groups. She describes herself as an internationalist, xenophile, humanist, vegan. She co-hosts the Oh God What Now? (formerly Remainiacs) and The Bunker podcasts. In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” The video of this conversation is also on our YouTube channel - subscribe so you don’t miss future conversations. We discuss how Naomi’s personal philosophy has evolved, including her experience of religious sectarianism in Northern Ireland, being excluded from a religious education class and feeling a deep affinity for non-human animals from an early age. For full show notes - click here! You can follow Naomi on Twitter here @pimlicat. Naomi is on our “Sentientist wall” – why not join her there in helping to normalise compassionate, rational thinking? Fill out this simple form. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook. Many thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-production work on this video. Go follow him (& maybe work with him!) at @cgbessellieu.
39:34
December 7, 2020
"We need to systematise benevolence" - David Pearce - Sentientist Conversations
David Pearce is a philosopher & co-founder of the World Transhumanist Organisation, now Humanity+. His work centres on "The Hedonistic Imperative" - a moral obligation to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life." You can find the video of our conversation here. We discuss: - "The Hedonistic Imperative"  - Using biotech to abolish suffering & replace it with gradients of hedonic bliss - Compassion, Buddhism, negative utilitarianism & the need to systematise benevolence - The "3 supers" of Transhumanism: super intelligence, super longevity & super happiness + why non-humans should be included - Growing up as a 3rd generation v*gan in a Quaker household - Waiting for god to get in touch at 7-8 yrs old then ceasing to believe at 10-11 yrs - The centrality of compassion to the values of David's family - Is morality like supporting a football team? - We can build our ethics on deep intuitions, then extrapolate - First person suffering is dis-valuable. Hold your hand in iced water! - The centrality of our perspective as a highly adaptive illusion. The suffering of others is just as salient to them - each of us is not special - "My morality is a feature of reality" - A future connected mega-mind might look back on us as ignorant as well as unethical - A choice to be immoral is also irrational - Basing our morality on a naturalistic epistemology & spanning "is-ought" - How nearly everyone disagrees with Sentientism - Focusing on the good in religion & working on common ground - The Bible is light on the bio-tech details of how the lion will lie down with the lamb :) - If god has given us CRISPR, why not use it to show mercy? - If humans have compassion, surely god's compassion should be even deeper? - Not being righteous even when you're right - Having compassion for people you disagree with & naturalistic humility about your own beliefs - Religious texts don't prohibit the positive use of tech - We're all amateurs re: understanding consciousness - Consciousness/sentience as "just" info proc or something more - Is the USA conscious? (Eric Schwitzgebel) - Micro-experiential zombies - Physicalism plus the intrinsic nature of the physical, is experience the "fire in the equations"? - Falling asleep doesn't destroy consciousness, it breaks binding - Eric's "crazyism" - stay open minded - Powerpointism as an alternative to panpsychism :) - The temptation to fill gaps / address uncertainty with "woo" and mysticism/magic/god - Even if consciousness is fundamental, it's not "like anything" to be a rock - Distinction between panpsychism (consciousness attached to fundamental entities) & non-materialist physicalism (experience discloses the intrinsic nature of the physical) - Using genetics to give our offspring better lives - for health and to adjust their hedonic set-points - Ending animal farming "death factories" - laws will outlaw - Making it easy to do the right thing - Mitigating wild animal suffering (fertility regulation - immuno-contraception/gene drives). We are already intervening negatively on a massive scale - SCN-9A gene, the volume knob of pain - Converting carnivores to herbivores, providing cultured-meat alternatives, without being constrained by species essentialism - "Nature is pretty" vs. "Compassion for the suffering" - Moving from "kill them all" to compassionate interventions - Using our tech capability to tap into the latent compassion of humans. See the YouTube video for full show notes.
57:30
December 4, 2020
"My enemy, which I will destroy, is arbitrariness!" - Sentientist Conversations - Stijn Bruers
In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Stijn is a physicist (phd), economist (phd in progress), animal activist, rational moral philosopher (another phd) and an Effective Altruist! He co-founded and is president of EA Belgium. He’s currently researching economics at the university of Leuven. We talk about: Academic activism God not saving Stijn from swimming classes Martial arts, Star Wars & eastern/Buddhist philosophy (chi, forces, accupuncture, telekinesis, telepathy) Retaining a sense of awe, wonder & connection within a naturalistic worldview Ecocentrism/biocentrism as intuitively attractive, but as Stijn’s biggest moral mistake Ecosystems can’t suffer & “Gaia doesn’t care” The risk that ecocentrism often really reflects a human aesthetic judgement, not genuine altruistic concern for other sentients The moral salience of wild animal suffering The “don’t play god” rule against intervening in nature is a reflection of human values, not altruistic concern Are the most important moral questions actually the simplest? The value of thought experiments in solid morality - treating ethics like physics In ethics as in physics, we shouldn’t arbitrarily make exceptions Nihilism & its association with a materialist worldview Outgrowing a “puberty” stage in personal philosophy Moral uncertainty Life project of finding fundamental moral principles. Starting with 8, then 5, now 3: 1) Universal application / categorical imperative; 2) Avoiding unwanted arbitrariness (e.g. discrimination, exceptions, revelation); 3) Relative preferences (~utility / well-being / preferences) Religious believers are atheists in every other religion Starting from rights & working back to derive sentience as the moral qualifier (makes no sense to apply rights (e.g. autonomy / being used as a means) to non-sentients as they have no interests or needs to protect) We can grant rights to everything, but they can only be breached for sentient beings! Sentience/flourishing/suffering as the full range of simple & rich qualitative experiences, not just basic hedonistic pains & pleasures How every other interest or preference (e.g. freedom/autonomy) can be assessed through their impact on the quality of sentient experience ... Find the full show notes here. You can learn about Stijn’s work here: stijnbruers.wordpress.com & he's on Twitter here @StijnBruers. Stijn is on our “Sentientist wall” – why not join him there in helping to normalise compassionate, rational thinking? Sentientism is “Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at sentientism.info. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook.
01:09:31
December 1, 2020
From Devout Sunday School Teacher to Atheist, Vegan, Sentientist Academic and Author - Sentientist Conversations - John Adenitire
John shares his story, from being a devout Pentecostalist Sunday School Teacher in Nigeria to being a Sentientist, atheist, vegan academic and author. Video version here. John is Strategic Lecturer in the School of Law and a Fellow of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. He is a cellist and dancer. We discuss: John growing up in Nigeria, then Italy in an evangelical, pentecostal family (both parents are missionaries and reverends) and community Being a sunday school teacher and devout believer Challenging those beliefs as a teenager, both re: evidence and ethics (e.g. rejecting religious homophobia) The rich integration of Nigerian culture, racial identity and religion and how that made leaving religion behind a difficult struggle Finding the courage to be open with parents who are very deeply involved with the church How some religious communities accept non-believing, “cultural” community members while others reject those who drop their supernatural beliefs Veganism being seen as a rejection of a culture rather than an individual moral choice How having freedom, time and distance from our culture can help us assess and improve our worldview Value as the foundation of ethics, not religion. Value comes first A pluralistic conception of value from the perspective of each individual: community, family, friendship, relationships, experiences Sentience as a sufficient ground for considering a being valuable because they have a perspective. Things can go better or worse for them. Morality is caring about that perspective of others Whether non-sentient beings have intrinsic or just instrumental value Is beauty of value even if no sentient ever experiences it? Let’s not destroy the Mona Lisa just to be safe The danger of bio/eco centrism and environmentalism neglecting or even harming sentient beings while trying to protect non-sentient things The full richness of sentient experience. Not just pleasure and pain – but aethetics, awe, wonder, connectedness and love The importance of setting a philosophical baseline of moral consideration for all sentients. But how even that baseline is the product of deep philosophical thinking by intellectual giants (e.g. Bentham) Why most of the 8 billion people on the planet disagree with Sentientism The importance of ensuring that our confidence in naturalism doesn’t lead to our own dogma or closed-mindedness or arrogance The importance of humility and receptiveness and open-mindedness and constructive conversation Compassion even for people you disagree with Basing our ethics on a naturalistic understanding of sentience and sentient beings How to get to a Sentientist future. Facts and logic won’t be enough… our emotional reactions come first, philosophy follows Empathy as a way to engage people emotionally Helping people be more ready change by setting a good, “normal” example Making better ethics the easier choice Once people have taken easier, better ethical choices they might upgrade their ethics Freedom of belief, but not freedom to use those beliefs to harm When you see something as more important than suffering and death, you tend to get quite a lot of suffering and death Law is there to restrict freedom to protect others We already grant rights to corporations and rivers, why not extend them to non-human animals? How the law and rights fields can help drive positive change.  John at QMUL. @JohnAdenitire. sentientism.info. FBook.
53:29
November 29, 2020
“I love the idea of Sentientism” - Bestselling Author AJ Jacobs
New York Times bestselling (4 times!) author and journalist AJ Jacobs experiments on himself to help us all learn. In this Sentientist Conversation he talks with Jamie about what he believes, what matters morally, and how his writing projects link to Sentientism's tenets of evidence, reason and universal compassion. The video of our conversation is here - why not subscribe on YouTube too? AJ: “I love the idea of Sentientism” We discuss: - Sentientist themes in AJ's personal experimentation writing projects: Living biblically, connecting everyone, thanking everyone, never lying, learning everything!  - The "belonging, belief and behaviour" of religion – including secular Judaism and hanging out at the Scientology centre. - Effective altruism and longtermism. - Moral realism, relativism and why the Taliban’s ethics just aren’t good. - Preferring shallow beliefs to deeply held beliefs. - The ethics of human and non-human animal, robot and far future ethics. - Expanding our moral circle through recognising our connectedness and/or through seeing climate change as a common enemy.  - Presenting positive opportunities to do good vs. using guilt. - What a Sentientist utopia might look like and whether we should even specify one. - Can Sentientism help address today’s dogmatic polarisation? AJ is on our Sentientist "wall":  - why not join him there using this simple form? AJ's web site is ajjacobs.com. Sentientism is "Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings." You can find out more about it at https://sentientism.info/ Everyone interested, whether Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our global community. Our main group is here on Facebook.  Many thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-production work on this video. Go follow him (and maybe work with him!) at @cgbessellieu. H4wA915UsvQXVufDkMvu
45:51
November 26, 2020
Prince throws a creationist tantrum! - Sentientist Conversations - Carole Raphaelle Davis #2
What's it like to have Prince throw a creationist tantrum when you take him on his first trip to a natural history museum? Carole Raphaelle Davis tells us what it's like to be a radical feminist, atheist, vegan (and Sentientist) in the showbiz world of Hollywood. "Sentientism feels like home!"  We talk about: - What it was like to work with and socialise with Prince - and how his religiosity affected their relationship - How animal ethics and veganism are finally, irreversibly going "mainstream" - Why it's so important for public figures, like Joaquin Phoenix, to be vocal about their ethics. You can find the video of our conversation here on YouTube - why not subscribe there too? Carole Raphaelle Davis is an actress, recording artist, writer and activist best known for her roles in Sex and the City and Madam Secretary and songwriting with Prince. Find out more about her work at caroleraphaelledavis.com. Here she is on our Wall of Sentientists. Why not join her there? Sentientism is "Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings." You can find out more about it at sentientism.info. Everyone interested, whether Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our global community. Our main group is here on FaceBook. Many thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-production work on this video. Go follow him (and maybe work with him!) at @cgbessellieu.
20:04
November 23, 2020
"Do you want a habitable planet for your children?" - Sentientist Conversations - Zion Lights
Zion Lights is an author & activist known for her environmental work & science communication. She is UK director of Environmental Progress. She has been a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion (XR) UK on TV and radio, and founded & edited XR’s Hourglass newspaper. She has written for The Huffington Post, authored the evidence-based nonfiction book The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting, and given a TEDx talk. To watch instead of listen, here's our conversation on YouTube. We talk about: Front line activism (before & during XR) Why environmentalists should commit to evidence & reason, even when it’s uncomfortable (e.g. nuclear) The risks of cause commitment leading to dogma & the ignoring/warping of evidence How a lack of evidence risks undermining movement credibility (particularly when being interviewed by Andrew Neill) Individual change vs. systemic change – making it easier for people to do the right thing How XR have helped bring env. concerns into the public consciousness Energy Justice, finding sustainable ways to get energy to people that most need it Understanding the reality of life in less-developed countries & acting with compassion as we pursue solutions Avoiding the developed country trope of: “We burned fossil fuels to get rich & happy – but you developing countries can’t, because we’ve destroyed the environment” Embedding compassion (for human & non-sentient beings) in our environmentalism Growing up in England with Punjabi parents, one Christian & one Sikh Exploring religions but being “baffled” by them How other dogmas (e.g. anti-vaxx, anti-masking) relate to religious dogmas The good (compassion) & bad (e.g. caste discrimination) of religious ethics Fatalism, karma & crossing the road in Indian cities! Fatalism & prayer as ways of coping with a difficult life, but ones that trap people Avoiding romanticism about living “simple” lives. These lives are often short, risky & full of suffering Superstitions as another set of un-founded & potentially dangerous beliefs The sense of freedom from letting go of superstition & religion & adopting a scientific worldview Marrying a doctor for safety/health as well as status reasons! Risking family & social connections to take a different path The value & constraints/dangers of community obligations The importance of freedom & autonomy The image of animal products as high status, aspirational or a “treat”,  going back to hunter/gatherer times Veganism, animal farming, clean meat, wild animal suffering, eco-fascism, paganism  A Star Trek/Kaku/Deutschian/Sagan future! There’s more about Zion here: http://www.zionlights.co.uk/ & you can follow her on Twitter here @ziontree. Here she is on our Celebrity “wall”. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at sentientism.info. Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community. Our main group is here on FaceBook.
01:16:18
November 20, 2020
"We have a golden opportunity to re-imagine our relationships with non-human animals." - Sentientist Conversations - Joe Wills
In this Sentientist Conversation I talk to Law and Rights Lecturer and Author, Dr. Joe Wills. We talk about what’s real and what matters morally. “We have a golden opportunity to re-imagine our relationships with non-human animals.” We discuss: – Religious indoctrination and influences in childhood – Morality without the supernatural – The dangers of having too narrow a moral circle (within and beyond humanity) – Extending our moral circle (and avoiding moral doughnuts!) – Social norms that hold us back from extending our moral circle – Narrow (pain + pleasure) and richer conceptions of sentience – Sentiocentrism vs. biocentrism vs. ecocentrism – The dangers of dogma (including scientistic dogmas!) – The important contributions of religious compassion and religious thinkers to animal ethics thinking – How even compassionate supernatural belief systems can lead otherwise good people to do serious wrong – How dogma blocks constructive conversation – Criticisms of Humanism and Sentientism as over-confident, universal, “western” ways of thinking vs. their deep, cross-cultural, pre-religious (even pre-human!) roots – Religion and aristotelian hierarchy as an engine of oppression within and beyond humanity – Sentientism as a bulwark against oppression – Insisting on moral consideration for every being capable of suffering – The dangers of moral relativism – Welfarism, abolitionism, extinctionism, segregationism, antinatalism, relationalism and the future of human and non-human animal relations – The ethics of farming human toddlers (let’s not) – Wild animal suffering and what (if anything) we should do about it – If sentient experiences are all that matter, should we plug into Nozick’s experience machine? – Are we already in a simulation? Does it matter if the simulation is good enough? – We have a golden opportunity to re-imagine our relationships with non-human animals given climate change/zoonosis/anti-microbial resistance crises, but will we take it? – Seeing companion animals as family members, not property – Legal opportunities to link climate change to resisting animal farming – Political initiatives (e.g. Sentience Politics in Switzerland) working to end factory farming and resist animal oppression – How can we tap into the latent public opinion against factory farming and even animal slaughter (See Sentience Institute research). You can find out more about Joe’s academic work here and can follow him on Twitter here @DrJoeWills. Sentientism is “Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more about it at Sentientism.info. Everyone interested, whether Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our global community. Our biggest group is here on Facebook. Many thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-production work on this video. Go follow him (and maybe work with him!) at @cgbessellieu.
01:11:27
November 18, 2020
Being a Vegan Atheist activist and actress in Hollywood - "Sentientism feels like home!" - Sentientist Conversations - Carole Davis #1
Jamie talks to actress, singer/song-writer, author and activist Carole Raphaelle Davis about Sentientism, what she believes and what matters morally.  If you prefer reading to listening, we've posted an article based on this conversation here. You can watch the video of our conversation here on our Sentientism YouTube channel. Why not subscribe there as well as to this podcast? Carole Raphaelle Davis is an actress, recording artist, writer and activist best known for her roles in Sex and the City and Madam Secretary and her songwriting with Prince. See more at caroleraphaelledavis.com. Sentientism is "Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings." You can find out more about it at sentientism.info.  Everyone interested, whether Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our global communities. Our main group is at https://www.facebook.com/groups/sentientism. Many thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-production work on the video and audio. Go follow him (and maybe work with him!) at @cgbessellieu.
55:29
November 17, 2020
Welcome to the Sentientism Podcast! Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.
Hi, Welcome to our new podcast. This is just a quick trailer. You can look forward to conversations with celebrities, activists, academics and interested lay people about "what's real?" and "what matters?". While Sentientism is a very simple, common sense, philosophy, it has some deeply radical implications! A commitment to evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings might seem obvious, but almost everyone on the planet disagrees with it, for now... To find out more about Sentientism, visit sentientism.info or our new YouTube channel. You're also very welcome to join any of our online, global communities, whether you think you might be a Sentientist or you just find the idea interesting. Our biggest so far is here on Facebook where we have people from every generally habitable continent and around 90 countries. Thanks for listening and don't forget to subscribe and even give us a review (now I'm starting to feel like a real podcaster 🙂). H4wA915UsvQXVufDkMvu
01:46
November 12, 2020