"Ethical value flows from reality" - Pablo Perez Castello - Sentientist Conversation EP:81

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

Pablo (@PabloPCastello & on LinkedIn) is a Research Asst at the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law & a Junior Fellow of the Animals & Biodiversity prog of the Global Research Network (GRN) think tank. He is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway (UoL). His research in Philosophy focuses on understanding the importance of human language in producing human dominion over animals. He also investigates the role animal language can play in relation to the participation of animals in political decision-making processes & the construction of zoodemocratic systems. His interests include ecofeminism, postcolonialism, critical race theory, critical disability studies, animal law, conservation, continental philosophy & critical animal studies.

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

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” In addition to the video above, the audio is on our Podcast here on Apple and all on the other platforms too.

We discuss:
0:00 Welcome

1:30 Pablo's Intro - interdisciplinary, intersectional research re: human & non-human animals, their languages & potential zoodemocracy.

3:51 What's Real?

  • Born into an atheist family
  • Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" & the mystical sense of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky
  • "Becoming sensitive to a dimension of reality that I thought had been hidden to me" via Wittgenstein's early work
  • Are poetry, music, arts & feeling beyond science even while they are aspects of reality (not the mystical)?
  • Being grounded in our embodied existence (ecofeminism)
  • "Ethical value flows from reality"… "Sentience matters because it is real… there are beings that actually suffer"
  • Interests, preferences & relationships are grounded in who those beings are
  • Derrida's "The Animal That Therefore I Am." What is it like for a cat to see me naked?!
  • Alterity. Appreciating the "other" in their own terms. Levinas
  • Science & naturalism & personal experience
  • Feminist thought & context
  • Language, categories, relations, community & power
  • "Western" binaries. Those w/without reason. Barbarians & the civilised.
  • Are relations & communities & cultures reducible to patterns of info proc in the minds of sentients?
  • Is the bond between cow & calf intrinsically valuable, or are the relationships reducible to the individual cow & calf?
  • Science & scientism
  • Claire Jean Kim's "Dangerous Crossings". Understanding different actors' positionality - including our own. Ethic of mutual avowal
  • Lori Gruen & "Entangled Empathy"
  • The ancient, global, various roots of sentiocentrism & naturalism
  • Consilience vs. silos of knowledge

32:14 What (& Who) Matters?

  • Heidegger's interpretation of aletheia (truth) as disclosure
  • Sentience matters, but not all that matters
  • Pluralism. Multiple dimensions of value e.g. relations?
  • Valuing voices/individuals "in their own terms"
  • The irreducibility of individual experiences (vs. utilitarian aggregation / offsetting)
  • Treatment of those who don't fit the "ideal paradigm"
  • "I don't like approaches!" Why limit ourselves?
  • Singer & utilitarianism. The pleasure of the bull-fighting audience doesn't justify the suffering of the bull
  • Ecofeminism, Marti Kheel, Carol J. Adams, Lori Gruen… "The problem with interest theory is that it reduces beings to an atomistic bundle of interests" (in Slicer's "Your Daughter or Your Dog?")
  • Drawing the moral consideration line
  • Deborah Slicer & moral remainders… beyond our comfort in our decisions (e.g. vegan isn't perfect)
  • No one should think "I have got it right!"
  • "Thinking Through Animals" by Matthew Calarco
  • Donna Haraway "Our existence is intrinsically violent… there is no way to live without killing". Now try to reduce that violence. Stay with the "trouble"
  • Consideration for plants?
  • Anthropocentrism
  • The risks of cultural value justifying oppression of non-human animals
  • Cultures themselves should be criticised & evaluated
  • Recognising those within cultures that criticise those cultures
  • A zoodemocracy of human & non-human animals means we need to respect the voices of every zoocitizen
  • Not seeing cultures/groups as monolithic ("erasing" individual experiences)
  • Donaldson & Kymlicka
  • There is no intrinsic value in relations between inanimate entities

1:09:25 The Future

  • A Universal Declaration of Sentient Rights, Sentientist Development Goals, Sentientist Language?
  • Zoopolis/Sentientist Politics
  • Representing those who can't represent themselves
  • Wild animals
  • Dinesh Wadiwel "The War Against Animals". Why do humans have the right to decide over others' lives? What's the justification - playing god?

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

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Thanks Graham for the post-production.

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