We are Sentientists

Why are these people considered ‘nearly’ sentientist?

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Ashley Byrne

'Nearly' Sentientist

Ashley is Director of Outreach for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). She has led a broad range of PETA's campaigns and has been interviewed about her work to promote animal rights by the LA Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and in many other publications.

Ashley is a Christian Scientist but has a broadly naturalistic epistemology, using evidence & reasoning. She is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

@ashlovesmongo (Insta)

Bel Jacobs

'Nearly' Sentientist

Between 1999 and 2014, Bel was Style Editor for Metro. The fall of Rana Plaza in 2013 forced a re-assessment; today, she is a writer, speaker and activist with a focus on animal rights, the climate emergency and the toxic fashion system. Bel has taken part in and moderated numerous panels for brands and organisations and has been interviewed about her work in activism, alternative systems in fashion and culture change.

Bel is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope. She describes herself as spiritual, not religious and, in our conversation below, says "my god is the natural world".

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.
Bel on FaceBook
Bel on Instagram
The Empathy Project
Islington Climate Centre

Paige Parsons Roache

'Nearly' Sentientist

Paige is Communications Director for the streaming platform UnchainedTV. After initially going vegan “for the environment” Jane became an ethical vegan after attending her first vigil with LA Animal Save. Paige later became a Contributor for JaneUnchained News where she reported on vigils, PETA protests, VegFests, book launches, Cubes of Truth & vegan conferences. Paige then became Booker for LunchBreakLIVE, a daily cooking show & Senior Booker for JaneUnChained News. Now, as UnchainedTV Comms Director & co-producer/co-host of the Plant Based In the ‘Burbs show, Paige brings inspiration, humor & humbleness to the kitchen, showing simple swap outs & easy recipes to inspire people to bring more plants on their plates. She also works with Gwenna Hunter who launched the first vegan food bank in Southern California.

Paige is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope. She describes herself as "spiritual more than religious".

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.


Paul Bloom

'Nearly' Sentientist

Paul is a psychologist. He is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor Emeritus of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University and Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on language, morality, religion, fiction, and art. His books include "Against Empathy" (making the case for rational compassion), "The Sweet Spot" (about the "pleasures" of suffering) and "Just Babies" (on the origins of good and evil).

Paul has published extensively on compassion and morality, including this paper "Children prioritize humans over animals less than adults do" co-authored with previous Sentientism guest Matti Wilks. His moral scope is unclear and he doesn't yet seem to have boycotted consumption of sentient animal products. He is an atheist and has a naturalistic worldview, rejecting supernatural beliefs.
Paul on Wikipedia

Sandra Nomoto

'Nearly' Sentientist

Sandra describes herself as a vegan foodie, content writer & editor and wife on a mission to empower others to make small, meaningful decisions and actions that will help make the world a better place. She is co-host of VEG Networking Canada, a place where plant-based and vegan companies connect and collaborate. Sandra is the author of the book "Vegan Marketing Success Stories".

Sandra does hold some supernatural and spiritual beliefs but is aware of the risks that come from those types of worldviews having experienced, then leaving, the NXIVM cult. Sandra is vegan and has, at least, a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.
Sandra on Instagram
Sandra on YouTube
Sandra on FaceBook
Sandra on LinkedIn


'Nearly' Sentientist

Adrian Tchaikovsky

'Nearly' Sentientist

Adrian is a multi-award winning fantasy and science fiction author. He is known best for his series Shadows of the Apt and for his novel Children of Time. Children of Time was awarded the 30th Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2016.

Adrian has a naturalistic worldview and, conceptually (not yet in practice), a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find his Sentientist Conversation with me here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Adrian on Wikipedia

Emerson Green

'Nearly' Sentientist

Emerson is the host of the Counter Apologetics & Walden Pod podcasts. Both are also available on his  @Emerson Green  YouTube channel.

He is an atheist and has a naturalistic worldview. He is "nearly" vegan, so is working on putting his sentiocentric moral scope into practice.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Emerson's LinkTree
Emerson's Blog

Pearl Monique Cole Brunt

'Nearly' Sentientist

Pearl describes herself as "poly-vocational". She is a foreign relations & management consultant with an MA in International Relations & an MBA in International Business. She is a vegan whole foods advocate via her "Le Twisted Spoon" club. Pearl is also a community organiser and public speaker.

Pearl generally has a naturalistic worldview but does believe there is "someone bigger than myself that clearly loves me". She is vegan.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.


Christopher Hitchens

'Nearly' Sentientist

Christopher was an author and journalist who wrote or edited over 30 books and countless articles (with the New Statesman, The Nation, Vanity Fair and many others) on culture, politics, and literature.

Christopher described himself as an anti-theist who saw all religions as false, harmful and authoritarian. He argued for a naturalistic approach including free expression and scientific discovery and asserted that these provided superior groundings (vs. religion or the supernatural) for ethical codes of conduct. He also advocated separation of church and state. The dictum "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence" has become known as Hitchens's razor.

Although he seemed to grant moral consideration to non-human sentient beings he continued to consume products made from farming animals. In this Atlantic piece he wrote: "the shepherd protects the sheep and the lambs not for their own good but the better to fleece and then to slay them."; "when I read of the possible annihilation of the elephant or the whale, or the pouring of oven cleaner or cosmetics into the eyes of live kittens, or the close confinement of pigs and calves in lightless pens, I feel myself confronted by human stupidity, which I recognize as an enemy." and "Like the quality of mercy, the prompting of compassion is not finite, and can be self-replenishing."

Christopher Hitchens on Wikipedia
2010 Archive of Hitchensweb

Greg Graffin

'Nearly' Sentientist

Greg is a singer and evolutionary biologist. He is most recognized as the lead vocalist and only constant member of punk rock band Bad Religion, which he co-founded in 1980. He embarked on a solo career in 1997, when he released the album American Lesion. His follow-up album, Cold as the Clay, was released nine years later. His newest solo work is Millport, released in 2017. Greg obtained his PhD in zoology at Cornell University and has lectured courses in natural sciences at both the University of California, Los Angeles and at Cornell University.

Greg writes that he is an atheist: "I've never believed in God, which technically makes me an atheist". However, he prefers to identify as a naturalist rather than as an atheist, saying: "Evidence is my guide. I rely on observation, experimentation and verification."

He describes himself as Straight Edge which often includes a vegan philosophy but I'm not sure of his views on non-human sentient animal ethics.

Greg on Wikipedia

Mark Solms

'Nearly' Sentientist

Mark is a psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist, best known for his discovery of the brain mechanisms of dreaming and his use of psychoanalytic methods in contemporary neuroscience. He holds the Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital and is the President of the South African Psychoanalytical Association. He is also Research Chair of the International Psychoanalytical Association. Mark has received numerous awards, notably Honorary Membership of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, the American College of Psychoanalysts and the American College of Psychiatrists. He has published more than 250 articles and book chapters, and 6 books. His second book, The Neuropsychology of Dreams, was a landmark contribution to the field. His 2002 book (with Oliver Turnbull), The Brain and the Inner World was a best-seller and has been translated into 13 languages. His latest book, on the hard problem of consciousness, is The Hidden Spring.

Mark has a naturalistic worldview and a sentiocentric moral scope. However, although his son and daughter in law are vegan, Mark hasn't yet put this aspect of conceptual Sentientist worldview fully into practice.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast. Don't forget to subscribe!

Mark on Wikipedia

Fearne Cotton

'Nearly' Sentientist

Fearne is a television and radio presenter. She has presented television programmes such as Top of the Pops and the Red Nose Day telethons. In 2007, she became the first regular female presenter of the Radio 1 Chart Show, which she co-hosted with Reggie Yates for two years. She went on to present her own Radio 1 show, airing every weekday morning from 2009 to 2015. She joined BBC Radio 2 in 2016. In 2007, Fearne presented The Xtra Factor, an ITV2 spin-off from the main show. She hosted the show for one year before being replaced by Holly Willoughby for the following series. From 2008 to 2018, Fearne appeared as a team captain on the ITV2 comedy panel show Celebrity Juice alongside host Keith Lemon and fellow team captain Holly Willoughby. She quit the series in December 2018 to pursue other projects. In 2018, Fearne began presenting the podcast Happy Place. She has written a number of books, including the "Happy Vegan" cookery book.

Fearne is vegan, implying she has a sentiocentric moral scope. She doesn't seem to be religious but holds spiritual beliefs that don't seem to be naturalistically grounded.

Fearne on Wikipedia

Helen Kopnina

'Nearly' Sentientist
Helen (@hkopnina) is Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Business at Northumbria University & The Hague University. Her research focuses on environmental education, biodiversity & corporate sustainability. She is an atheist and has a naturalistic worldview. Helen has an ecocentric ethics and describes herself as a flexitarian, implying she doesn't yet grant moral consideration to all sentient beings. Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Lee McIntyre

'Nearly' Sentientist

Lee McIntyre is a Philosopher of Science. He is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy & History of Science at Boston University & an Instructor in Ethics at Harvard Extension School. Lee is the author of How to Talk to a Science Denier as well as many other books, essays & papers. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, Scientific American, the Boston Globe, the New Statesman & the Humanist.

Lee has a naturalistic worldview and is sympathetic to a sentiocentric moral scope - although is working on applying its practical implications.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Andy Norman

'Nearly' Sentientist

Andy Norman, PhD is the author of "Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think". 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’s Naked Scientist & The Young Turks. He champions the emerging science of mental immunity as the antidote to disinformation, propaganda, hate, and division. He likes to help people develop immunity to bad ideas. Andy directs the Humanism Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University & is the founder of CIRCE, the Cognitive Immunology Research Collaborative.

He has a naturalistic worldview and does grant moral consideration based on sentience but is still working on removing sentient animal products from his lifestyle.

Find his Sentientist Conversation with me here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on our Podcast.

Frans de Waal

'Nearly' Sentientist

Frans is a primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Department of Psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory and the author of numerous books including "Chimpanzee Politics", "Our Inner Ape" and "The Bonobo and the Atheist". He has featured in TV/radio productions and TED talks viewed by tens of millions of people. His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

While Frans does largely grant moral consideration based on sentience he does still consume some non-mammalian sentient animal products. Frans is an atheist and has a naturalistic worldview. He has written extensively on the evolutionary histories and naturalistic bases for ethics.

Frans' Sentientist Conversation with me is on the Sentientism YouTube and podcast.

Frans on Wikipedia
Frans on FaceBook

Henry Mance

'Nearly' Sentientist

Henry is the chief features writer for the Financial Times newspaper. He is the author of "How to Love Animals in a Human Shaped World."

Henry is vegan and is an Anglican Christian.

Find his Sentientist Conversation with me here on YouTube and here on Podcast.


Martha Nussbaum

'Nearly' Sentientist

Martha was nominated as a "Suspected Sentientist" via our "I know a Sentientist" form (thank you!). More details are forthcoming, but in the meantime, here is Martha on Wikipedia.

Martha has written extensively on non-human animal ethics. While she has focused on developing a capabilities approach she does seem to grant moral consideration to all sentient beings regardless of capabilities. While she seems to have a broadly naturalistic worldview she converted to Judaism in 2008.

Susan Blackmore

'Nearly' Sentientist

Susan is a writer, lecturer, sceptic, broadcaster, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. Her fields of research include memetics, parapsychology, consciousness, and she is best known for her book The Meme Machine. She has written or contributed to over 40 books and 60 scholarly articles and is a contributor to The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

She has a naturalistic worldview and is a patron of Humanists UK. In this article, she recognises the strong evidence that many non-human animals are capable of experiencing suffering, but refers to "vegetarians" in the third person, saying "Many people become vegetarians because of the way farm animals are treated".

Susan on Wikipedia
Susan at Humanists UK

Dick Gregory

'Nearly' Sentientist

Richard (Dick) Claxton Gregory was a comedian, civil rights and animal rights and vegan activist. Gregory became popular among the African-American communities in the southern United States with his "no-holds-barred" sets, poking fun at the bigotry and racism in the United States. In 1961 he became a staple in comedy clubs, appeared on national television and released comedy record albums. Gregory was at the forefront of political activism in the 1960s, when he protested against the Vietnam War and racial injustice. He was arrested multiple times and went on many hunger strikes. He later became a speaker and author. He said: " Because I'm a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life. We shouldn't be a part of it."

While he was described as a religious skeptic, it doesn't seem that he held a naturalistic worldview. He said "I am god, you are god." He often talked of spirituality and supported a number of poorly-evidenced conspiracy theories.

Dick on Wikipedia


'Nearly' Sentientist

Lawrence "Kris" Parker, better known by his stage name KRS-One, an abbreviation of "Knowledge Reigning Supreme Over Nearly Everyone", and Teacha, is a rapper and producer. He rose to prominence as part of the hip hop group Boogie Down Productions, which he formed with DJ Scott La Rock in the mid-1980s. KRS-One is best known for his hits "Sound of da Police", "Love's Gonna Get'cha (Material Love)", and "My Philosophy". Boogie Down Productions received numerous awards and critical acclaim in their early years.
KRS-One is politically active, having started the Stop the Violence Movement. He's also a vegan activist, as expressed in songs such as "Beef":

"So just before it dies, it cries
In the slaughterhouse full of germs and flies
Off with the head, they pack it, drain it, and cart it
And there it is, in your local supermarket"

While KRS-One has turned away from traditional religions he doesn't have a naturalistic worldview. Referring to his book, The Gospel of Hip Hop, he has said: "this book will be a new religion on the earth ... I think I have the authority to approach God directly, I don't have to go through any religion..."

KRS-One on Wikipedia

Andrés Roemer

'Nearly' Sentientist

Sean Carroll

'Nearly' Sentientist

Sean is a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum mechanics, gravity, and cosmology. He is a research professor at the California Institute of Technology Department of Physics. He has been a contributor to the physics blog Cosmic Variance, and has published in scientific journals such as Nature as well as other publications, including The New York Times, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. He has appeared on the History Channel's The Universe, Science Channel's Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, Closer to Truth and Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. Carroll is the author of Spacetime And Geometry, a graduate-level textbook in general relativity, and has also recorded lectures for The Great Courses on cosmology, the physics of time, and the Higgs boson. He is also the author of four popular books. He began a podcast in 2018 called Mindscape, in which he interviews other experts and intellectuals on a variety of science-related topics.

Sean is an atheist and describes himself as a "poetic naturalist". While he does recognise that needlessly causing suffering to sentient beings is morally negative, he considers it acceptable to kill a sentient being without causing suffering if we think it lacks an ability to plan for or conceive of its own future. He uses this perspective to justify his continued use of animal products although remains open minded on the topic.
Sean on Wikipedia

Charles Darwin

'Nearly' Sentientist

Charles Darwin was a naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science.
While he seemed to recognise the moral worth of sentient non-humans, there seems to be little basis to the suggestion that he was vegan or vegetarian, but his great-great grandson is confident he'd be vegan if he was alive today. Darwin had a naturalistic worldview and considered himself agnostic.
He said: "We have seen that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention and curiosity, imitation, reason, etc., of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or even sometimes in a well-developed condition, in the lower animals.", "There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties ... The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind", and "The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man."
Darwin on Wikipedia

Kat Dennings

'Nearly' Sentientist

Kat Dennings (Katherine Victoria Litwack), is an actress. She is known for starring as Max Black in the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls and as Darcy Lewis in the Marvel superhero films Thor and Thor: The Dark World. Since making her acting debut in 2000, Dennings has appeared in films including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Big Momma's House 2, Charlie Bartlett, The House Bunny, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Defendor, and Suburban Gothic.
Kat seems to have a naturalistic worldview, having said that Judaism "is an important part of my history, but, as a whole, religion is not a part of my life." In late 2020 she said she was adopting a plant-based diet, although primarily for environmental rather than ethical reasons.
Kat on Wikipedia

Massimo Pigliucci

'Nearly' Sentientist

Massimo is Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He co-hosted the Rationally Speaking Podcast, and was editor in chief for the online magazine Scientia Salon. He is an outspoken critic of pseudoscience and creationism and an advocate for secularism, science education and Stoicism.

Massimo argues that people, particularly Stoics, should be either vegetarian or vegan. Personally, he remains vegetarian. He says: "I’m going to redouble my personal efforts to follow this path and further reduce my intake of other [sentient animal] foodstuff. I hope you will join me, to reduce both suffering in the world and our carbon footprint as a species. And Seneca adds, you’ll also feel better and think more clearly."

Find Massimo's Sentientist Conversation with me here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Massimo on Wikipedia

A. C. Grayling

'Nearly' Sentientist

A.C. or Anthony is a philosopher and author. In 2011 he founded and became the first Master of New College of the Humanities, an independent undergraduate college in London. Until June 2011, he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. He is also a supernumerary fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. He frequently appears in British media discussing philosophy and public affairs.

Anthony is the author of over 30 books on philosophy, biography, history of ideas, human rights and ethics, including The Future of Moral Values (1997), What Is Good? (2000), The Meaning of Things (2001), The Good Book (2011), The God Argument (2013), The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind (2016) and Democracy and its Crises (2017). He was a trustee of the London Library and a fellow of the World Economic Forum, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts.

Anthony has a naturalistic worldview. He is a vice-president of Humanists UK and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

Anthony has been vegetarian since around 1980, saying in this interview "The kinds of animals that people eat – cows, chicken, sheep and so on – are capable of fear and suffering, and experiences of pleasure. They’re sentient to that extent, and I don’t think there’s any argument about that. There is an argument about fish, and certainly an even bigger argument with shellfish, about whether they’re having a pleasant time or can be afraid or suffer – but I’m rather inclined to draw the line well beyond where it might need to be drawn, just on as-it-were safety’s sake. I can eat healthily, pleasantly and well, and enjoy myself without being involved in too much killing of sentient beings capable of suffering and fear. Now, I wear leather shoes and a leather belt and people point out this is inconsistent, and I tell them they are right. Moreover vegetarianism is actually an illogical position, because if you actually were going to take all this very seriously you should really be a vegan, but I find veganism takes up time and thought and attention and is a bit of a struggle, and there are other things to do with one’s life – so being a vegetarian is really a halfway house where you’re personally self-minimising the involvement you have in factory farming – in the slaughter of sentient beings."

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.

A.C. Grayling on Wikipedia

Brian May

'Nearly' Sentientist

Brian is a musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and astrophysicist. He is the lead guitarist of the rock band Queen. He is vegan. He has described himself as an agnostic, but has also said that, at times, be believes that some sort of a god does exist.
Brian on Wikipedia

Jim Al-Khalili

'Nearly' Sentientist

Jim is a theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster. He is professor of theoretical physics and chair in the public engagement in science at the University of Surrey. He is a regular broadcaster and presenter of science programmes on BBC radio and television, including The Life Scientific. In 2014, he was named as a RISE (Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers) leader by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). He is not vegetarian or vegan. He was President of the British Humanist Association between January 2013 and January 2016.


Add my name to the wall!

"Just dive in and meet people where they're at" - Ashley Byrne - PETA Outreach Director - Sentientism Episode 153
"I went vegan finally when I fell in love with one" - filmmaker & writer Jay Shapiro - Sentientism Episode 151
Should Effective Altruism Take Abolitionism More Seriously? - Dhruv Makwana - Sentientism Episode 150
"Vegan pets... They're enjoying their lives more & they're living longer" - Dr. Andrew Knight - Sentientism Episode 148
"Animal research... much harm with very little benefit" - Neuroscientist Dr Katherine Roe from PETA - Sentientism Episode 147
Bursting "The Reality Bubble" - Ziya Tong - Science Broadcaster & Author - Sentientism Episode 146
A US Constitution For All Sentient Beings - Maybe Sooner Than We Think? - Professor Michael Dorf - Sentientism Episode 145
“How do you find meaning in a universe that’s doomed?” - Astrophysicist Dr. Katie Mack @AstroKatie - Sentientism Episode 144
"Why bad beliefs happen to good people" - Philosopher Neil Levy - Sentientism Episode 143
"Veterinarians are merchants of doubt for the animal agriculture industry" - Dr. Crystal Heath of Our Honor – Sentientism Episode 142
"All suffering matters morally" - Eva Hamer from Pax Fauna - Sentientism Episode 141
"Animal rights is a social justice issue now" - Fashion Activist Bel Jacobs- Sentientism Episode 140
"Who am I to take another's life?" - Paige Parsons Roache of UnchainedTV - Sentientism Episode 138
"What is it like to be another animal?" Lori Marino - Sentientism Episode 137
"Rationality comes with responsibility" - Kathy Hessler - Sentientism Episode 136
"The Creative Lives of Animals" - Author Carol Gigliotti - Sentientism Episode 135
"It just started to not make sense" ObjectivelyDan - Host of "Truth Wanted" Sentientism Episode 134
"I relate directly to other creatures - I don't need any belief system" - Karen Davis - United Poultry Concerns President - Sentientism Episode 133
Update: Sentientism Movement: Nov 2022
"I agree wholeheartedly with Sentientism" - A.C. Grayling - Humanist Philosopher & Author - Sentientism Episode 132
"Watching Earthlings hit me really hard" - Author Sandra Nomoto - Sentientism Episode 131
"The Animal Turn" podcast - challenges to Sentientism!
"What is compassion if it doesn't include all sentient beings?" - new YouTube conversation
Consumers can drive compassionate change - Ethos CEO Jill Ettinger - Sentientism Episode 130
Can Humanists and Atheists Break Free From Human Supremacism?
"We gotta make friends... that's the path to liberation" - DxE's Matt Johnson - Sentientism Episode 129
Knowing Animals and Vegan FTA! - talking about Sentientism
"It feels really good to be doing the right thing" - Alene Anello - Legal Impact for Chickens President & Founder - Sentientism Episode 128
"We need to transition [India]... the question is how?" - Economist Chaitanya Talreja - Sentientism Episode 127
"I've always identified with the 'Other'" - Adrian Tchaikovsky - Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author - Sentientism Episode 126
"Religion is at the intersection of everything I care about" - YouTuber & Podcaster Emerson Green - Sentientism Episode 125
"People can't not eat free vegan food!" - Pearl Monique Cole Brunt - Sentientism Episode 124
"Let's make a world with less suffering today!" PETA president and founder Ingrid Newkirk - Sentientism Episode 123
From Dairy & Beef Farmer to Animal Activist - VeganFTA's Jackie Norman - Sentientism Episode 122
"Compassion is a boundless capacity" - Lisa Kemmerer - Sentientism Episode 121
"The Politics of Love" - Writer Philip McKibbin - Sentientism Episode 120
"I have this instinct to go to the underdog" - Ana Bradley - Sentient Media ED - Sentientism Episode 119
"You can definitely be a victim & a perpetrator" - Farm investigator Erin Wing - Sentientism Episode 118
"As people who are harmed - how can we possibly perpetrate harm?" - LoriKim Alexander - Sentientism Episode 116
Sentientist Economics - Nicolas Treich - Sentientism Episode 115
"Humility should underpin our efforts to understand" - Journalist Marina Bolotnikova - Sentientism Episode: 114
"We are reflective animals - which comes with responsibility" - Susana Monsó - Sentientism Episode: 113
"Ought flows from sentience" - neuropsychologist & "Hidden Spring" author Mark Solms - Sentientism Episode:112
"The basis of all value is sentience" - Steve Sapontzis Take #2 - Sentientism Episode:111
"Bringing individual animals into the frame " - Author & Ethnographer Kathryn Gillespie - Sentientism Episode 110
"Incorrect beliefs impact the lives of others" - Street Epistemologist Mark Solomon - Sentientism Episode 109
"The Weight of Empathy" - author Lucas Spiegel - Sentientism Episode 107
"There's a myth that we can't understand animals... if we listen, we can" - Adam Cardilini – Sentientism Episode 106
Imagine a politics based on evidence, reason and compassion. Magnus Vinding has done just that in: "Reasoned Politics"
"The world is going to get better for animals in our lifetime" - Species Podcast host Macken Murphy - Sentientism Episode 105
"Veganism is the secular manifestation of Ahimsa" - author Jordi Casamitjana - Sentientism Episode 104
"Humanism is just way too focused on one animal" - Philosopher Constantine Sandis - Sentientism Episode 103
Misinformation and conspiracism in the vegan movement - on Freedom of Species
Modes of Inquiry - Talking About Sentientism
"There's a caste angle to how animal cruelty works in India" - Karthik Pulugurtha - Fish Welfare Initiative - Sentientism Episode 101
"I am relentlessly naturalistic" - Barbara J. King - Animal Author & Advocate – Sentientism Episode 100!
"The right to a fair start in life" - Carter Dillard of Fair Start Movement - Sentientism Episode 99
"Wars start because someone gets annoyed." - Richard Firth-Godbehere - History of Emotion - Sentientism Episode 98
Why is it so hard to talk about meat?
"Sentientism Salon" - online event - hosted by the American Ethical Union
"It's the same fight regardless" - Ex-Mormon writer Coral Sands - Sentientism Episode 96
Clearer Thinking - about Sentientism!
"The Sustainable Development Goals Are All About Us Humans!" – Dr. Helen Kopnina - Sentientism Episode 95
Talking to Humanists About Non-Human Sentients
"Artificial Animals" - a fascinating essay by Claire L Evans referencing Sentientism
Let's create more effective, compasionate narratives - Writer Alex Lockwood - Sentientism Episode 94
"I believe in the abolition of cages - human & non-human" - Rachel Krantz, author of "Open"- Sentientism Episode 93
"Science denial is about identity, not facts" - Lee McIntyre - Sentientism Episode 92
"Learning can liberate" - Mary Pat Champeau - Institute for Humane Education - Sentientism Episode 91
"Farmers say they want to take care of their animals... let's give them that opportunity!" – David Michelson of YesOnIP13 - Sentientism Episode 90
Freedom of Species - Talking About Sentientism
How can Africa avoid industrialised animal farming? - Cameron King of Animal Advocacy Africa - Sentientism Episode 89
"Punk music was my gateway into politics & ethics" - Sociologist Nick Pendergrast - Sentientism Episode 88
"You CAN change other people!" - Howie Jacobson of Plant Yourself - Sentientism Episode 87
"There's not a huge difference between how we treat farmed animals & how we treat people - as resources" Nandita Bajaj of Population Balance - Sentientism Episode 86
Uncomfortable Conversations - Sentientism outreach! Two new podcast appearances
"If you have experienced suffering you're aware of its badness" - Philosopher Michael Huemer - Sentientism Episode 85
"Nobody likes hypocrisy but we're all hypocrites" - Dr. Brian Earp - Sentientism Ep:84
"If I can open my mind about veganism... I can do anything... it was so liberating" - Jamila Anahata from the Afro-Vegan Society - Sentientism Ep:83
"Al Gore didn't want to talk about it!" - Dr Sailesh Rao - Sentientist Conversations EP:82
"Ethical value flows from reality" - Pablo Perez Castello - Sentientist Conversation EP:81
"'I love what you do for me' - isn't love!" - Cat Besch - Vietnam Animal Aid & Rescue Founder - Sentientist Conversation - EP:79
American Humanist Association Publishes Article on Sentientism
"A whole new relationship with non human animals that will blow people’s minds!" Jonina Turzi - Sentientist Conversations ep:78
Rod Graham's "Being" - Interview on Sentientism
Update: Sentientism Movement: Oct 2021
Humanism will Evolve into Sentientism - Peter Tatchell - Sentientist Conversations ep:76
Why Should We Care About The Environment?
Should Stoics be vegan? - philosopher Massimo Pigliucci - Sentientist Conversation ep: 75
"Veganism, Sex and Politics... pleasure, not sacrifice!" - Author C Lou Hamilton - Sentientist Conversation
"Making Compassion Easier" - Tobias Leenaert - Author and meta-advocate - Sentientist Conversation
"Boom! - the entire world changed - everyone was questioning everything" - Mariann Sullivan - Sentientist Conversation
"What will you say to your grandkids?" - @Soytheist Aditya Prakash - Sentientist Conversation
Pineal Podcast - Sentientism and Spirituality
"Are Panpsychism, Veganism and Sentientism Compatible?" - A Sentientist Conversation with Philosopher Luke Roelofs
"We need to develop Mental Immunity against epidemics of nonsense" - Andy Norman - Sentientist Conversation
"Time has come for non-human animals to be globally protected in UN-iversal law" - Sabine Brels of the World Federation for Animals
"When I adopted a dog - my whole worldview shifted" - Aditya from Animal Ethics
"The conversation has to start with you" - Jenny Splitter - Journalist and SciMom Founder
"May all beings be happy & free from suffering" - Cebuan Bliss
"Animal farming will end by the end of this century" - Jacy Reese Anthis
"You cannot go wrong with compassion" - primatologist Frans de Waal - Sentientist Conversations
"That's moral progress - you have to interfere in things" - Philosopher Kyle Johannsen
"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
"Factory farming is a complete disaster" - Financial Times Journalist Henry Mance
"We don't need a god - we can do it ourselves" - Philosopher Richard Brown
"We are entropic eddies complex enough to have woken up" - Sci-Fi author Peter Watts
"We don't have to wait until the 24th century for a Star Trek future" - Christopher Sebastian - Sentientist Conversation
Suffering matters even if we didn't cause it - Heather Browning - from Zookeeper to Philosopher
"I would consider myself a Sentientist now" - Tennis pro Marcus Daniell
"Ending animal testing is a win-win for humans and animals" - Neurologist CEO Aysha Akhtar
"There is no us and them" - Yasmine Mohammed - Ex-Muslim Activist - New Sentientist Conversation
"Animal activists don't have to be on the political left" - Josh Milburn - New Sentientist Conversation on Podcast and YouTube
"I'm concerned with oppression in all its forms" - Joey Tuminello - New Sentientist Conversation
"Maybe moral systems are harmful! Like religion, they are used to divide us." - Walter Veit - New Sentientist Conversation
"Freedom, equality & avoiding harm to others" - Psychologist Kristof Dhont - New Sentientist Conversation
"The root of all evil is in thinking some suffering doesn't matter" - Jane Velez-Mitchell - Sentientist Conversation
"Children are much less speciesist than adults" - Psychological Researcher Matti Wilks - New Sentientist Conversation
"There is suffering - end it!" - Actress Victoria Hogan - New Sentientist Conversation episode on YouTube and Podcast
"We're at the beginning of a huge movement" - Author Julie Taylor - New Sentientist Conversation on Podcast and YouTube
"Morality isn't linked to religion" - Amy Wilson - Activist Lawyer - New Sentientist Conversation on Podcast and YouTube
"Compassion needs to be grounded in reality" - Jessica Pierce - Bioethicist and Author - Sentientist Conversation on YouTube and Podcast
"The Peppa Pig Paradox" - activist academic Lynda Korimboccus - New Sentientist Conversation on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"Sentientism captures everything - it's future proof" - Michael Dello-Iacovo - New Sentientist Conversation on Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"No judgement... just how do we solve this?" - Humane Educator Zoe Weil - New Conversation on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"The Ocean is Alive" - Ocean Ecologist Glenn Edney - New Conversation on Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"We can't understand humans without recognising that we're animals" - Dr. Diana Fleischman - New Sentientist Conversation
Our Hen House podcast: Sentientism Episode!
"Maybe the point of being is to be loving" - Comedian Myq Kaplan - New Sentientism YouTube & Podcast episode
What if we re-wrote the Sustainable Development Goals for all sentient beings? Sentientist Development Goals?
"Us humans are slow learners" - Kim Stallwood - author & scholar - New conversation on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
An Introduction to Sentientism - on YouTube and podcast. "Talking to Humanists about other sentients"
From Human Rights to Sentient Rights: the next generation of rights thinking
"Every individual matters" - Marc Bekoff - New Conversation on Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"If you hand most people a knife they won't stab a cow!" - John Oberg - New Sentientist Conversation
"Vet training reduces empathy for animals" - Vet Kevin Saldanha - New Sentientist Conversation
"Vegan stuff is going to be hot!" - Sociologist Corey Lee Wrenn - New Sentientist Conversation
"Change is possible but hard" - Jeff Sebo - Author, Activist, Academic - New Sentientist Conversation
"Imagining a better future through our everyday decisions" - Podcaster and academic Claudia Hirtenfelder - New Sentientist Conversation
Truth Wanted Live Call in Show - about Sentientism!
"Breeding into suffering is the root of the problem." - Sentient Media founder Mikko Järvenpää - New Sentientist Conversation
“A Fabulous Vegan Future!” - Jasmin Singer - New Sentientist Conversation
"How can I have been morally asleep for so long?" - Prof Randall Abate - New Sentientist Conversation
“De-centring the human” - New Sentientist Conversation with Josh Gellers. Also Happy New Year!
"Diverse sentients could live in mutual symbiosis" Graham Bessellieu - New Sentientist Conversation
"Being in balance with ourselves and the rest of the living world" - Author Gill Coombs - New Sentientist Conversation
"How can we do the most good for non-human animals?"- Jamie Harris - Animal Advocacy Careers co-founder & Sentience Institute Researcher - New Sentientist Conversation
"Let's end humanity's war on the rest of the planet" - Better Meat CEO & Animal Rights Hall of Famer Paul Shapiro - New Sentientist Conversation
"Humans might one day need to beg AIs for our sentient rights" - AI expert Roman Yampolskiy - New Sentientist Conversation
"As a Vet I Felt Helpless" - Vicky Bond, Humane League UK Managing Director - New Sentientist Conversations Video
"No victim, no problem!" - New Sentientist Conversation video with philosopher Floris van den Berg
"We'll look back on this era of humanity as barbaric" - New Sentientist Conversation video with campaigner CEO Naomi Smith
"Compassion alone is not enough - we need to systematise benevolence": David Pearce Video #Sentientist Conversation
From Devout Pentecostalist Sunday School Teacher to Sentientist Academic and Author - John Adenitire - New Sentientist Conversations Video
Drop the Retribution: Sentientist Justice
Update on the Sentientism "Movement" (if that's what it is)...
"My enemy, which I will destroy, is arbitrariness!" New Sentientist Conversation with Stijn Bruers
We Have a Sentientism Podcast!
"The aim is to convince 8 billion people to use evidence & reason & extend universal compassion to all sentient beings, thereby solving all the world's problems." New podcast interview!
"Do you want a habitable planet for your children?" A Sentientist Conversation with Zion Lights
Sentientist Conversations: Dr. Joe Wills
Podcast Alert: Future Based!
Sentientist Conversations: Bestselling Author AJ Jacobs
Sentientist Conversations: Actress Carole Raphaelle Davis
The Bridge
Fish Sentience! Free, online talk for the Sentientist community - 19 Nov!
Sentientist Conversations: Carole Raphaelle Davis (New Video!)
Sentientism @ "Future Design" and "Ask a Philosopher"
Ask A Philosopher - Open Q&A on Sentientism
Normalising rationality and compassion - Help us find Celebrity Sentientists!
Sentientist News - Making News Better?
Sentientist Politics - New Page!
New Sentientism PodCast Episode - All Things Risk
Help us build our FAQ!
Join Sentientism on WikiTribune Social
Association of Black Humanists Discussion on Sentientism - New Video!
Kialo Debate: Sentientism is the Optimal Universal Worldview
Free Zoom talk on Sentientism
Humanism needs an upgrade: Is Sentientism the philosophy that could save the world?
Beyond Species Interview
Dilemma HangOut - Conversation with Jay Shapiro
Video! - New page and a 3 hour discussion about Sentientism
Sentientism – Raising Awareness
Universal Declaration of Sentient Rights
Is Humanism good enough?
A Unifying Morality? How is Sentientism Different?
In a Sentientist World - What Disappears? - a new Sentientism Community
Animal Liberation and Atheism - Kim Socha
Interview with Open For Animals

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"Just dive in and meet people where they're at" - Ashley Byrne - PETA Outreach Director - Sentientism Episode 153

Ashley Byrne is Director of Outreach for PETA. A conversation about Sentientism's "evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings".

"Just dive in and meet people where they're at" - Ashley Byrne - PETA Outreach Director - Sentientism Episode 153

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Ashley is Director of Outreach for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). She has led a broad range of PETA’s campaigns and has been interviewed about her work to promote animal rights by the LA Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and in many other publications.

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 audio is on our Podcast here on Apple & here on all the other platforms.

We discuss:

00:00 Welcome
01:33 Ashley Intro

  • 16 years at #PETA: public campaigns, celebrities… "enjoying every minute of it"

03:18 What Matters

  • #ChristianScience "there was never a divide… this is science & this is god… a lot of spirituality"
  • (see risks re: prayer vs. medicine)
  • Father "a non-practising Catholic… not a religious person but was very supportive of… that part of my mother's life"
  • Personal relationship with god "connect directly with this spiritual part of your life"
  • More a spiritual, all-pervasive god than a "judgemental, human figure"
  • Rejecting "we judge everything based on a human worldview"
  • Universally accessible rather than in/out-group based
  • "Not telling you what to do"
  • Religious vs. scientific views of reality "It never occurred to me that those things could be incompatible"
  • Spiritual rather than literal interpretation of the #bible
  • "#spiritually I really still do identify with these ideas & these values"
  • "Macro spiritual concepts of love… that bring us out of what's right in front of us"
  • "Isn't so much of science trying to go bigger & deeper"
  • Science that we don't yet understand that can sometimes be anticipated by mystical/spiritual thinking
  • Ontological (what's real?) & epistemological (how should we work it out?) naturalism
  • Risks of wishful thinking
  • #faith vs. #naturalism "I'm the latter… the evidence"
  • Is there evidence that would lead you to reject Christian Science? "it's more of a spiritual practice"
  • "#spirituality … it is a scientific pursuit… our ideas of science are too limited"
  • Risks of dogma / harmful & discriminatory ethics in religious/supernatural worldviews
  • "If you have an ethical question about the world you should be going back & working it out with these spiritual tools"
  • Growing up in #losangeles
  • One 8th grade term in a Southern #Baptist school "pamphlets in the office that told you why every other religion in the world was wrong & sinful - mine was in there"
  • "You're going to hell!"
  • "I was constantly being told 'be quiet, sit down, stop asking questions'… I remember the word 'obey' was used a lot"… "I didn't get it… why can't you answer these questions?"
  • The #trauma caused by religious beliefs (e.g. threat of hell)
  • Secularism & kids learning about multilple worldviews

41:08 What Matters?

  • "My parents really laid the foundation… for my sense of ethics… each coming from their own respective backgrounds… two extremely ethical, thoughtful, kind, intelligent people."
  • You don't need an old book to be a good person… universal goods
  • "Goodness is something more primal than that [#divinecommandtheory]"

45:30 Who Matters?

  • "I grew up in an animal loving household… unquestionably family members"
  • The family dog: "She loved me and I loved her"
  • "There was never any idea that these weren't individuals"
  • At a few years old "why is this called chicken… if the animals are called chicken?"… "There was this pause… like when someone at school said 'Santa Claus isn't real?'"
  • Mum had once been #vegetarian. Dad was "red meat & potatoes"
  • "When they told me that meat was made of animals I was not happy"
  • Thinking as a teen, but then drifting back to the social default
  • Imagining humane farms & "there must be something different about these animals that we're eating"
  • "We [good people] wouldn't be doing this if chickens felt pain… if it was cruel & violent & wrong"
  • Asking a Sunday school teacher about "Thou shalt not kill" vs. eating animals… "take that back… & address it spiritually… figure it out… so I did."
  • Seeing horrific footage in "Faces of Death" that "changed my entire life on the spot"
  • "I knew that the footage of animals was real because I knew that they didn't need to fake that"
  • "The worst thing I had ever seen… the level of devastation"
  • Cultural differences re: #dogmeat vs. other animals
  • “There’s no scientific reason why it’s wrong to eat a dog but OK to eat a chicken – it’s entirely cultural”
  • “I can’t accept that this is OK… I guess that means it’s not OK to kill & eat any of these animals… & that’s when it stopped”
  • “What we do to animals… it’s horrifying”
  • Mum gave Ashley “Diet For a New America” book
  • Learning about eggs, dairy & wider animal exploitation: “Dammit… I’m going to have to go vegan”
  • “The punk scene was integral to educating me about these things.” Vegan bands and animal advocacy zines
  • Previous guests: Nick Pendergrast (not Paul – sorry!), Kristof Dhont
  • “In the punk community it was absolutely supported”
  • Rebelling against classic teenage forms of “rebellion”
  • “Our default should be that everyone matters… to care & to respect”
  • Sentience vs. intelligence
  • “Sentience should help us guide how we can do the least amount of harm”
  • “A rock & a pig are very different”
  • Destroying nature – “you’re in an ecosystem that does impact sentient beings”
  • “There’s this impulse… ‘what can we not care about?’ Shouldn’t the default be the other way?”

01:16:33 How Can We Make A Better Future?

  • “The whole of my work is dedicated to that [making a better world]”
  • “Just caring more… and acting on it… not ‘what’s the most I can get away with?’”
  • We’re not living on a desert island with a chicken… “we’re living in this modern world where we just have an abundance of choices”
  • The power of improving human worldviews
  • Win-wins
  • Changing minds & institutions
  • Many kinds of activism “what brings one person around is not the same as what will bring another person around… PETA is a great example of this”
  • Changing legislation, corporations, cultural change, habits, ideas, thoughts “how people think about animals”
  • “How do you change cultural thought?”
  • Demonstrations that “people cannot walk past”, making headlines, “reaching people where they are”, social media, whistleblowers, veganism, lobbying
  • “You can’t give problems without solutions… here’s the problem & here’s the action”
  • Corporate vegan options
  • Previous guest Ingrid Newkirk (PETA founder & president)
  • Criticisms of PETA: corporatisation of philanthropy (vs. grass roots), feminist critiques, shock tactics
  • “I am absolutely a feminist… Riot Girl is how I entered the punk scene” after experiencing the sexism of the Southern Baptist school
  • “Respecting people’s autonomy… decisions about their bodies & their lives… something humans constantly deny animals”
  • “If I choose to take part in a protest… with my clothes off… that’s entirely my decision… I’m standing up for animals.”
  • “bodily putting myself out there for animals who have no choices about their bodies”
  • “It’s interesting how often the media will take a photo of that protest & cut out the men… & what people choose to share on social media”
  • Animal exploitation industries are marketing to people in this way “it’s very subversive that we take this imagery & we use it to unmarket – to tear down this facade”
  • “Now that we have your attention we are going to debunk”
  • “Meeting people where they are and making use of things that people already respond to – that is what some people need”
  • Dress Vegan: People think that veganism is a diet “so it’s interesting to talk about something that clearly isn’t food”
  • “There is a demand for vegan fashion”… vegan leather shoes, down alternative jackets
  • Smaller brands often have some ethical motivation. The big brands “aren’t doing it to be nice… there’s a demand”
  • “Individual choices do matter… it’s happening because people demanded it, asked for it, bought it, supported it… I think it’s empowering to think about that”
  • “If you’re funding a terrible system unnecessarily, then stop!”
  • Arguments from futility, ineffectiveness
  • “The system wants you to believe you’re powerless… Put more stock in your ability to make a difference”
  • “You just dive in – you get your hands dirty”
  • “It’s almost as if people don’t realise they have the agency to act!… they’re almost waiting for someone to give them permission”
  • Helping free ranging animals in New York
  • “You’re allowed… you don’t need anyone to give you permission to do the right thing”
  • JW: “If everybody sits at home waiting for collective action & systemic change to solve the problem – there isn’t going to be any collective action or systemic change”
  • “The solution is – you act!”

01:44:00 Following Ashley:

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at

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 to Graham for the post-production and to Tarabella and Denise for helping to fund this episode via our Sentientism Patreon.


"I went vegan finally when I fell in love with one" - filmmaker & writer Jay Shapiro - Sentientism Episode 151

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Jay is an award winning filmmaker, writer, and podcaster. He directed Islam and the Future of Tolerance, a film based around a conversation between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz. He produces and creates a wide range of content, writes on his “What Jay Thinks” blog & hosts the Dilemma podcast (some co-hosted with Coleman Hughes). I had the pleasure of being his guest for a Dilemma Hangout on Sentientism back in 2020.

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 audio is on our Podcast here on Apple & here on all the other platforms.

We discuss:

00:00 Welcome
01:54 Jay Intro

  • The Essential #samharris series
  • Documentary & narrative film-making
  • "I really want to understand ideas… and transmit those to an audience… even if I totally disagree with the idea"

03:16 What's Real?

  • Growing up in a secular #Jewish household
  • "Post-holocaust American judaism is it's own brand… a very ethical & political tribe more than a religious one"
  • "'Never again' becomes the holiest prayer"
  • Psychologist dad, guidance counsellor mum
  • "I'm a boring naturalist but… I love analogies for what it feels like to exist"
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five "Oh… This is what I like"
  • An over-active imagination as a kid… "my scientists", The Truman Show, solipsism, Philip K Dick & #scifi
  • #Meditation, #psychedelics, religious experiences… "scrambles the dials"
  • Donald Hoffman's "The Case Against Reality"
  • How evolution shapes our construction of experiences of reality
  • Psychedelics help us "catch it in the act" of reality construction
  • "There's much more out there" e.g. non-human sentient experiences
  • "It reminds you of the expansiveness of reality rather than show you a new one"
  • The National High School Ethics Bowl
  • Anil Seth's "How your brain hallucinates reality" @TED
  • Annaka Harris's exploration of consciousness theories re: "The Hard Question"
  • "Reality is awesome enough - who needs magic" (I mis-spoke!)
  • Epistemological tests?: atheism, veganism, spherical earth…
  • Writing about Sam Harris, not for him
  • Object-oriented ontology
  • #psychology "I don't think we're the rational animal… we're the rationalising animal"
  • How people respond to #cognitivedissonance (Leon Festinger) "they really don't like it"
  • Criticising #consequentialism "you can justify anything… wait long enough and the consequences will work out… where do you stop the clock… too easy to find an out"
  • #Virtueethics "Secular virtue" (vs. religious views of virtue)
  • What happens after noticing the cognitive dissonance. More about psychology & values more than epistemology?
  • Coping mechanisms. Consequentialism, capitalism, economics… give people outs to "quiet these voices in their heads"
  • Neil Levy "people are more rational than you think"
  • Qanon, Goop products… everyone selects evidence/sources to suit themselves
  • Believing unfounded things can be a "rational" response to existential crises / the discomfort of cognitive dissonance

37:45 What Matters?

  • "There is no grounding (to ethics)"
  • David Hume's "unbreachable" is-ought chasm
  • "If you hate Sam (Harris) I think you'll like a lot of what I do there" (the Foundations of Morality episode of The Essential Sam Harris
  • There is a relationship between is and ought but "It's up to us to define that relationship"
  • "My bridge": Carl Sagan's "We are a way for the universe to know itself"
  • "I'm super humanistic… I bristle at the efforts… to downgrade the human as just another animal"
  • We have the "moral opportunity" to figure things out & decide what we ought to do
  • "Luckily there's a lot of joy & fun in figuring it out… and some sadness… it's the only game in town… so I'm playing"
  • "I'm trying to champion the human" & David Deutsch re: creation of explanations/knowledge
  • "Experience must be the only way to see the bridge across is-ought"
  • Moral agency & patiency
  • Compassion as a moral opportunity
  • Cultivated meat: Is there a risk of easy solutions that don't require humans to be better? Would we be missing a moral opportunity? What future horrors might we create?
  • A future where everyone is #vegan so "we don't even need the word any more"
  • The value of sacrifice?

58:50 Who Matters?

  • “I went vegan finally when I fell in love with someone who was a vegan – and now she’s my wife”
  • “I know what it feels like to agree with the arguments about animal suffering… I can remember what it feels like… to participate in a system that I now think is incredibly evil and harmful… and it feels like nothing… the banality of evil… but cognitive dissonance sucks.”
  • The “I’m waiting for clean meat” and “I die if I eat vegan” / “I have no choice” responses (e.g. Sam Harris, Paul Bloom) and “it’s normal”
  • The hope in realising people still feel cognitive dissonance
  • Consistency & coherence… eating dogs and babies?
  • How responding to cognitive dissonance can warp ethics (“they don’t matter”) and epistemology (believing things that are wrong)
  • “My wife is the person who saw a video and was like ‘I can’t participate any more this is too horrible’ and changed her behaviour”
  • “Most people are more like me – it’s hard for us – we just don’t face it”
  • “I was living the [meat] paradox – but I do remember it felt like nothing”
  • “The arguments themselves don’t carry the day”… humility
  • Falling in love, going vegan, falling in love with cooking
  • “My veganism was easier than hers – 15 years earlier”
  • Anthropocentrism, sentiocentrism, biocentrism, ecocentrism
  • The social norm determinants of how humans morally evaluate different non-humans (e.g. horrified at eating dogs but OK with eating pigs) “I must have been one of those people!”
  • Jared Piazza, Brock Bastian, Rob Percival re: “The Meat Paradox” and Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”
  • Jay’s experience of his dad’s death: “you don’t have to wait ‘til they die – it was a missed opportunity… don’t wait!”
  • Moral opportunities… finding “better ways to live”
  • “[non-human] animals don’t tend to struggle with cognitive dissonance”
  • The naturalistic fallacy and the “necessary” argument… “A failure to embrace the transcendent nature of human knowledge creation… to question who we are… to engineer ourselves away from, if we want to, evolution.”
  • Jay’s “Two Burgers on a Plate” article
  • Sentientism’s ethical pluralism (deontology, utility, feminist care, virtue…)
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Thomas Nagel’s “What is it like to be a bat?”
  • Solipsism
  • “With your definition of Sentientism – sign me up”
  • Dan Dennett
  • Integrated Information Theory IIT Tononi et al
  • Imagining a consciousness/sentience detector “would people still eat lamb?”
  • Can non-human animals do art? Second order thinking “most people would not want to eat that animal”
  • “I don’t think animals are on the same level… I don’t think a lion… is wondering if it should be going plant-based”
  • Carol Gigliotti’s “The Creative Lives of Animals”… play, love
  • Frans de Waal & animals’ complex inner lives
  • “I’m actually optimistic”

01:50:49 How Can We Make A Better Future?

  • The Direct Action Everywhere right to rescue cases: if rescuing a dog from a hot car is illegal – so should rescuing animals from farms
  • Rescuing Lily and Lizzie from Smithfield farms in Utah and being charged with felony burglary – then being acquitted
  • Jay’s film project about the case & visiting Lily & Lizzie in a sanctuary
  • Luna makes an appearance
  • “given the choice humans don’t want to really do this”
  • Imagining streaming live camera footage from slaughterhouses “My optimism is… it still bothers people”
  • “We all know veganism is getting easier… the argument of necessity will be absurd”
  • The flawed argument that “In the global capitalist consequentialist socioeconomic system… the greater good always works out…”
  • Filming DxE protesting a rodeo… “people were upset… there’s some optimism in the anger… kids were just curious”
  • Jay’s wife “it’s wrong – why don’t they just stop?”… “Most people have trouble just stopping”
  • Sentientism puts intra-human and intra-species ethics “all on the same page”
  • Religion and politics re: intra-human ethics. Re: non-human ethics it’s more culture?
  • “I want to reinvigorate faith in the human capacity for love and compassion and for change”
  • There’s a mismatch between “a better future” (consequentialism?) and “a good individual life” (virtue?) today. 8 billion people can’t live the way that’s currently thought of
  • “We want to think of ourselves as good people… and doing something worthwhile” – integrity
  • “Easy” tech fixes: horseless carts and cultivated meat
  • Personal choices, political campaigns, donating to causes, influencing others, inventing new products, changing the market
  • “Go try to watch an animal cruelty video and see if it bothers you… take an evidence-based approach… ask yourself and wonder… is that integrity?”
  • An examined life. We have the capacity to address our cognitive dissonance
  • “Catch yourself in the act…” of reacting to cognitive dissonance “taking the exit”
  • If you wait for the easy tech fix you’ve missed a moral opportunity “We all face the opportunities that come along”
  • “Believe me, Sam, you can be healthy”
  • “You realise how fun it can be and how lovely it is to feel the integrity grow in yourself… and you can probably do others… that’s human”
  • “Or fall in love with a vegan” 😊

Following Jay:

  • Leaving social media (as has Sam Harris – same deal)
  • The Essential Sam Harris series

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at

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 to Graham for the post-production and to Tarabella and Denise for helping to fund this episode via our Sentientism Patreon.


Should Effective Altruism Take Abolitionism More Seriously? - Dhruv Makwana - Sentientism Episode 150

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.

Dhruv is a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge. He has interests in psychology, philosophy and animal advocacy.

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 audio is on our Podcast here on Apple & here on all the other platforms.

We discuss:

00:00 Welcome
01:33 Dhruv Intro
02:25 What's Real?

  • Born in India, moving to Scotland "A mix of two cultures"
  • Hindu temple at home, outside was "classic western materialism, science…"
  • @OfficialDerrenBrown 's "Tricks of the Mind". Magic, charlatanism, #homeopathy , #religion, #GMO scepticism (e.g. Golden Rice)
  • Reading Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things" at 12 yrs old
  • Finding school academically easy but socially hard "immigrant children willl know… feeling like half and half and the halves don't really mix"
  • Culturally universal values: "There was this value of transcendence that was just missing… it would be really nice if god was real… I switched back and forth"
  • Celebrating #diwali when visiting India "I could see the appeal… but I couldn't see any reason or logic"
  • "It's not like the western materialists have any really great answers on how to live…"
  • Experiencing clinical #depression at Cambridge University
  • Discovering #stoicism & #nietzsche "a very positive nihilism"
  • The @philosophizethispodcast and @theschooloflifetv "self-directed, exploratory learning"
  • Existentialism "I couldn't really follow the continental philosophers". Camus' "The Plague" made more sense during #covid19
  • A personal situation "which just did not seem amenable to being logiced out of"
  • A talk by @akalamusic
  • Going back to Indian religion & philosophy "there might be something here"
  • Reading the #mahabharata to understand the context for the #bhagavadgita
  • #arjuna , #krishna roles & responsibilities "why should I act if the fruits of my acts are not my own?"
  • Encountering #buddhism Graham Priest's "Paraconsistent logics"
  • 2 weeks at a Buddhist monastery in Scotland "everyone had their own story… so much suffering… worse than mine"
  • Values of patience, generosity, loving
  • Practising #meditation & #mindfulness
  • "Let me just try things that seem to work"
  • The wisdom of hunter-gatherer cultures
  • Not dismissing or reifying any culture
  • "I accidentally moved to New Zealand"
  • Going #vegan (after growing up #vegetarian ) mainly for environmental reasons
  • Trying vegan pizza "this is fine"
  • @SimonAmstellNumb 's #Carnage documentary
  • @ed.winters Watching #EarthlingEd
  • Ethical & epistemological journeys developing in parallel
  • Meeting an activist community
  • Reading Peter Singer's "The Life You Can Save" and #effectivealtruism
  • Sam Harris' "Waking Up"
  • Identity & Derek Parfit
  • Physicist Carlo Rovelli's "The Order of Time" & intepretations of quantum physics
  • "I have 4 extremely diverse points of view pointing to this very strange thing about notions of identity… the Buddha takes things one step further… this is one of the reasons you're upset"
  • "Being troubled by open metaphysical questions is not because you don't have an answer… it's because you expect the answer"
  • A local #yoga group
  • "I stopped being bothered by these big existential questions"
  • Exploring from the outside & the inside (e.g. via meditation)
  • Cravings & suffering
  • Philosophy of mind: functionalism, materialism, #illusionism , #panpsychism
  • #dualism & non-dualism
  • Are fictional characters "real"?
  • Time as an abstraction of a gradient of #entropy
  • The movie "Tenet"
  • Consciousness as a statistical macro-phenomena?
  • P-zombies
  • #bayesian epistemology vs. Deutschian / Popper #CriticalRationality: putting reasons & explanation at the foundational level
  • St. Petersburg Paradox

53:00 Who & What Matters?

  • Inconsistency arguments re: moral exclusion
  • "Consistency seems like a good thing to aim for"
  • "Clearly animals count"
  • Kinship & transcendence "they are literally related"
  • "I use sentience… a fuzzy line"
  • Artificial or alien sentience
  • Plant sentience?
  • Blamelessness if we're making good faith efforts to attribute sentience
  • Risks of ethical flattening if consciousness is all-pervasive "everything matters so nothing does"
  • Buddhism's "ultimate reality & relative reality"
  • Pain vs. suffering & human capacity to mitigate suffering even when experiencing pain

01:03:03 A Better Future?

  • Criticisms of #effectivealtruism
  • Welfarism vs. abolitionism… end goals and tactics
  • #Greenwashing & #Humanewashing
  • Jeff Sebo and the psychological intuition re: rights
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Ex-vegans: “something leads them to eat some animal products and then their moral opinions change… that seems suspicious”
  • Not just ending animal exploitation but preventing it re-emerging
  • The wild animal suffering imperative
  • Welfarism is “unnecessary… and risky”
  • Logic of the larder, the myth of death without suffering, the intrinsic wrongness of killing?
  • “I believe in person-affecting views but I don’t believe in persons”
  • Individuals as “macro-phenomena”
  • Is existence better than non-existence?
  • “In the EA animal advocacy community it seems like people have said yes to welfarist approaches and no to abolitionist approaches (as tactics) – my conjecture is that… it should be ‘unknown’ to abolitionist approaches rather than ‘no’”
  • The limitations of welfarist tactics: high income countries focus (now changing); cultivated-meat optimism (also changing); over-scepticism about individual change advocacy (esp. elimination / veganism)
  • Reducetarianism: “More people will respond to the ‘reduce’ but they’ll do it by less – whereas fewer people will respond to the ‘eliminate’ but they’ll do it by more”
  • Outdated unfortunate caricatures of abolitionists
  • Risk of excuses & dead ends: reduction, “humane” animal farming…
  • Ideas for effective abolitionism: international rights based approaches to animal law (a Universal Declaration of Sentient Rights?); animal farm transitions;
  • “At some point all the pieces need to come together”
  • #transfarmation “one of my favourite ideas… often farmers are trapped in this industry” “There’s a win-win situation for everyone involved”
  • Economically self-sustaining interventions
  • Institutional land-holdings re: agriculture
  • Measuring human welfare via QUALYs and DALYs “well-intentioned but empirically and philosophically terrible”
  • Objective list theory
  • Biases re: loss and getting used to good or bad changes e.g. returning to hedonic set-points
  • A better approach: “I could ask you”
  • Happier Lives Institute “how bad is death and who is it bad for?”
  • Could helping people cope with suffering be an excuse for not fixing the problems (e.g. poverty, health) causing their suffering?
  • Trauma, stress and growth
  • Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics “Economies that are required to grow regardless of whether or not they make people thrive… we should be aiming for economies that make people thrive whether or not they grow”
  • The risks of environmentalism and degrowth movements “I’m comfortable, now everyone else needs to stop growing and find a different way to be happy”
  • Working with communities
  • Low-cost group therapy as an intervention can be highly cost effective “That’s a very surprising result… so illuminating… something that only the Effective Altruism movement could have produced”
  • The wellbeing and economic arguments for helping people suffering from depression “great if you care about the people but also great if you just care about the money”
  • Population life satisfaction as an indicator of whether a politician will get re-elected
  • Psychedelics and meditation “the science really needs to catch up” “clinicians will need to be able to take an ontologically neutral point of view” (re: seeing fairies, for examples)
  • Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium
  • “I had no idea if that was working… but it did make me feel better”
  • “You need a really finely tuned bullshit detector”
  • The Aurelius Foundation, stoicism and previous guest Massimo Pigliucci

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at

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Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.

Thanks to Graham for the post-production and to Tarabella and Denise for helping to fund this episode via our Sentientism Patreon.