Jacy Reese Anthis

“Animal farming will end by the end of this century” – Jacy Reese Anthis

Find our conversation on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast.

Jacy (@jacyanthis and jacyanthis.com) is a social scientist & co-founder of the Sentience Institute. His acclaimed book, The End of Animal Farming, analyses the development & popularisation of food technologies such as plant-based & cultivated meat.

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” As well as the video above the audio of our conversation is also on our Podcast here on Apple and on the other platforms too​​​​​.

We discuss:
0:00 Welcome

1:26 Jacy’s Intro
Utilitarianism, Effective Altruism, Buddhism, neuroscience, community building, Animal Charity Evaluators, Sentience Institute, The End of Animal Farming, Sociology PhD & moral expansion.

3:22 What’s Real?

  • Growing up around Baptist & Catholic churches near Houston but in an agnostic family
  • Attending church “lockins”
  • “I wasn’t even told Santa was real growing up”
  • Interested in Buddhist views of suffering, but not the supernatural aspects. “Why Buddhism is True” by Robert Wright
  • Naturalism has a connotation that there is nothing supernatural. “That’s an empirical claim about which I remain uncertain”
  • Would multiverses, our universe being a simulation or pre-Big Bang history be seen as “supernatural”?
  • The varieties of religious identity: metaphysics, ethics, community

9:20 What Matters?

  • Moral heuristics and their conflicts
  • Adopting utilitarianism at 12 yrs old & looking for a “proof”
  • From moral realism to anti-realism (per Brian Tomasik)
  • It’s up to us to decide which mental phenomenon to put in the “sentience” and “consciousness” categories
  • Objectivity, relativism, nihilism & arbitrariness
  • Even most religious people would act morally if there was no god
  • Rejecting “mind-independent” truth as the next step up from rejecting supernatural truths
  • Non-objective morality can still be compelling
  • Grounding morality in a concern for the experiences of others
  • The priority balance between reducing suffering vs. enhancing flourishing

18:20 Moral Scope & Expansion

  • Utilitarianism led to vegetarianism then veganism
  • Focusing initially on human issues, working at GiveWell
  • Cause prioritisation led back to non-human issues
  • Persuading sentiocentrists to be more effective & effective altruists to be sentiocentric
  • The bias against helping other species
  • Non-human animal causes can seem sentimental until you engage w/the arguments
  • Far future/long-termism
  • Effective Altruists have the highest veg*n % of almost any human group
  • Ancient roots of sentiocentrism/veganism & naturalism
  • “Everything has been said before”
  • Philosophical pluralism in Sentientism
  • Eze Paez & Jacy’s Futures paper re: moral circle expansion (attitudinal and behavioural)
  • Moderate & radical flanks of social movements. Shifting the overton window. Corey Lee Wrenn

30:11 Sentientism, Sentiocentrism and Sentience

  • Is Sentientism the only moral discrimination?
  • Why is naturalism important? Abraham & Isaac
  • Sentientism as the naturalistic version of sentiocentrism?
  • Valuable intersections with other movements, including religions
  • Sentience: goal orientation, mood-like states, complexity, integration?
  • Biocentrism, ecocentrism
  • Trade-offs & synergies between different perspectives. Working with others without having to agree on everything!
  • “Moral circles are not circles”
  • Wild animals, invertebrate sentients, artificial sentients
  • Defining sentience using examples. Valence, arousal?
  • Panpsychism, substance dualism or sentience as a class of info processing?
  • Is panpsychism the new “elan vital”?
  • “There’s nothing magical about our conscious experience but that’s a really cool thing!”

48:17 The Future

  • Locking in the valuing of sentience?
  • Singleton AI or governance
  • Could we programme a super-intelligent AI to be sentientist?
  • Hedonium, the most efficient use of space/energy/matter for pleasure. Dog park simulations?
  • David Pearce’s gradients of hedonic bliss
  • “I’m not going to pick & choose too much once we’ve eliminated extreme suffering”
  • “Most people aren’t very morally driven” but “I’ve become more optimistic about technology” & legislation/institutional change
  • Cautionary lessons from GMOs & nuclear
  • “We need anger & outrage” as impetus
  • Code switching for effective messaging “we can lead this important change!”
  • SI’s Foundational Questions
  • “Animal farming will end globally by the end of this century”
  • To 2025: Building a foundation (e.g. plant/cultivated alternatives). 2025-: Virtuous cycles. 2050-: Mass scale. 2075-: Wrapping up
  • Suspicious convergence / veganism as a solution to all problems?
  • Supporting humans (e.g. farmers) transitioning. Acknowledging trade-offs. Just Transition
  • Imagining transitions & futures. The role of the arts & narrative & design
  • The Cellular Agriculture Society’s vision of a more compassionate future
  • Existential Hope
  • Is Shame Necessary” by Jennifer Jacquet

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info​​​​​​​​​​​​​. Join Jacy on our “I’m a Sentientist” wall using this simple form.

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

Thanks Graham for the post-production.

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