Sentientist Politics

Politics is an important way of making change happen whether locally, nationally or internationally. Many of us have opportunities to have a political impact re: sentientist campaigns, whether by voting, starting or signing petitions, lobbying for better party or government policy, rallying or protesting or by standing for political office.

Sentientist politics would represent the interests of all sentient beings and implement compassionate, evidence-based policies to address those interests. Beyond that, sentientists hold a wide variety of political views, both with respect to economics and to forms of political organisation – but these are some common themes we might expect to see:

  • Representation for all sentient beings, even those not capable of directly expressing themselves politically. See Sentientist Politics by Alasdair Cochrane (he’s on our wall!)
  • Evidence-based policies – carefully using the sciences, statistics, experiments/pilots/trials to develop understanding, test the results of policies and measure change
  • Secularism – protecting freedom of belief and non-belief, ensuring equality under the law and separating religious beliefs and ethics from government
  • Policy objectives and metrics focused on suffering and death reduction and enhancing flourishing
  • Environmental policies that focus on how critical the environment is for the flourishing of sentient life
  • Protecting freedom – given the importance of freedom to sentient beings, while applying constraints on freedom where justified by the risk of harm to others.

Let us know what you think by commenting below, joining one of our online fora or contacting us (form to the right).

The following sections set out some of the political initiatives and parties we’re aware of that align, at least to a degree, with sentientist politics. Please suggest more! So far, they either tend to focus on non-human animals or on humanism and rationalism. Maybe one day we’ll see some that are explicitly sentientist – addressing both a commitment to evidence and reason and universal compassion for all sentient beings.

International

The EuroGroup for Animals is a pan-European advocacy organisation for non-human animals. They don’t have a stance on naturalism. They’re on Twitter @Act4AnimalsEU.

National

Belgium:
The DierAnimal party focuses on non-discrimination (whether based on human characteristics or on species) and having compassion for all sentient beings – particularly non-human animals. They are not explicitly naturalistic, but do reject religious interests as a justification for human supremacy or anthropocentricsm. They’re on Twitter @DierAnimal.

Denmark:
The VeganerPartiet focuses on a vegan philosophy of avoiding harm to human and non-human animals and an ecocentric concern for the environment. They don’t have a clear stance on naturalism but do reference their policies being based on evidence and professional expertise. The Veganer Partiet is on Twitter at @veganerpartiet.

France:
The REV (Révolution Ecologique Pour Le Vivant) party is anti-speciesist and ecologically focused. It aims to defend the rights of humans, non-human animals, as well as (non-sentient) eco-systems and nature. They don’t have an explicitly naturalistic stance but do include “Reason” in their values. REV are on Twitter @REV_leparti.

There is a new (July 2020) Referendum for Animals in France you can support here.

Germany:
Partei der Humanisten (The Humanist Party) – also on Twitter @DieHumanisten. As this brief Twitter exchange shows, they default to the standard humanist approach which expresses concern for “animal welfare” while still considering it acceptable to have sentients harmed and killed for human consumption. As with humanism more generally, it’s great to show them considering non-human animals, but the deep social taboos re: animal farming still hold them tightly.

The Netherlands:
Frij Links (The Free Left) is a party focused on secularism, liberalism, rationalism, freedom of thought and speech and anti-discrimination. They don’t appear to have any stance re: non-human sentient animals. Their manifesto only mentions human concerns.

United Kingdom:
The Animal Welfare Party. They also have a great list of other non-human animal parties and initiatives around the world.

USA:
The Humane Party focuses on a vegan, abolitionist agenda. The party describes itself as “America’s Party of Science and Ethics” so also has a strong naturalistic stance.

The Farm System Reform Act has been proposed by US Senators Cory Booker (vegan) and Elizabeth Warren. This Vox article gives a good overview.

2 Comments

  1. One or two things need some deep thinking (which I’m not sure I am capable of).

    Representing sentient beings who cannot express their views, by a movement controlled by human beings (who else can fulfil this role?) means we have to make assumptions about what their interests and needs are. Or we have to control and enforce what we believe they want – and if their needs and wants are not provided for in some way it isn’t democratic.

    And some of them will contradict the fundamental philosophy of sentientism. For example how does a human sentientist human properly represent carnivorous wildlife?

    While I am empathetic with the idea of removing national borders, I believe it’s a matter of degree not a binary question. People and other sentient beings will have a need to “belong” which is not in itself a bad thing and can help to forge communal groups for good not evil. The distinction is important because nationalism that sets one nation against another to the extent that one is subjugated to another, poorer than another, have less food, education shelter and healthcare than another; is in the extreme evil. But friendly competition through sport or even a certain degree of disparity in wellbeing can boost friendship, and achievements for improvement of all life forms on earth.
    What we should be able to recognise, however, are those things where competition between nations (or any other arbitrary border) is good, and choose international cooperation and good will in those areas where it would be bad to do anything else.

    • Thank you!

      I agree – there are risks in us representing the interests of non-human sentients. We may well get things wrong. Still better to try, I suggest – particularly where we have reason to be confident (e.g. interests in avoiding harm, needing sustainance/security and in surviving). Arguably our most important and fundamental interests are those shared most widely with other sentients.

      Agree there’s no perfect solution when interests conflict. Predation is a classic and challenging example. Sentientism just says we shouldn’t ignore the moral salience of any suffering, however “natural” it might seem. Surprising solutions to even this type of problem are already being explored via wild-animal suffering studies.

      Also agree re: nations and groups. There are many postive things about forming communities, groups and nations. The dangers arise when those outside the group are treated without full moral consideration.

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