Joey Tuminello headshot

“I’m concerned with oppression in all its forms” – Joey Tuminello – New Sentientist Conversation

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Joey (josephtuminello.academia.edu) is asst. professor of philosophy at McNeese State Uni & program coordinator for the nonprofits Farm Forward & Better Food Foundation (See also the Default Veg campaign). His research covers philosophies of food, medicine, animals & environment. He teaches biomedical ethics & sections of ethical theory & existentialism.

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 audio is also on our Podcast – subscribe on Apple here ​​​& all the other platforms here​​​​​​.

We discuss:

  • Growing up in a Catholic household in Louisiana
  • “Who’s your mama, are you Catholic & can you make a roux?”
  • Questioning religion early on. Developing scepticism. Understanding mechanisms of control in religion & beyond
  • Hard-core atheist phase & studying philosophy
  • Non-theism & atheism. Tempered with humility & openness
  • “Open-mindedness & scepticism go hand in hand”
  • Deciding not to get confirmed
  • Attending Catholic high school that didn’t welcome questioning & experiencing social adversity
  • Social justice & hateful interpretations of some religions (e.g. Westboro Baptist Church)
  • Using religious arguments to justify discriminations
  • Analytic philosophy & challenging religious inconsistencies
  • “Ambiguity & tension is part of the human experience”
  • Humility & open-mindedness needs to be at the core of naturalism
  • The arrogance in “angry atheism”
  • Getting comfortable not knowing. With-holding belief until there’s evidence
  • Meta-physics & ethics
  • “We don’t have access to the ultimate nature of reality” but there are still things we can meaningfully say about reality
  • Experiences are happening. Phenomenology, directed consciousness & the self/non-self
  • Nagel’s “What is it like to be a bat?”
  • Consciousness, interests that matter and ethics (caring about the interests of others)
  • Lacking a justification for the exploitation or oppression of others, human or not
  • The “Embrace The Void” podcast with Joey’s friend Aaron
  • Pre-human morality
  • Is the choice to be moral simply the choice to care about the perspectives of others
  • Moral inter-subjectivism. There are moral truths independent of each mind but they do require an interface between subjects
  • Sentient beings do matter morally, but is sentience the only thing that matters? Is cutting down a tree wrong if it has no impact on sentients?
  • The risk of anthropocentrism, because humans are defining & assessing sentience. But sentience existed long before & far beyond humans
  • Sentience isn’t “how like humans are you?”. It’s just a characteristic humans happen to to have too
  • The need for prudence re: assessing sentience. Giving entities the benefit of the doubt
  • So much of the environmental movement grants ~zero moral consideration to farmed & many wild sentients
  • Daoism. “The Dao that can be told is not the eternal way”. “Language can’t fully capture the nature of reality”
  • Moral relativism
  • The Is-ought barrier. I our ethics aren’t grounded somehow in reality – aren’t they arbitrary?
  • Is the “moral circle” concept problematic? Humans at the centre, patronisingly granting moral consideration based on similarity to humans
  • “Growing up I knew there was something weird about eating meat” & having a love for animals
  • Breaking the deliberate obfuscation of links between animal products & animals
  • Documentary Food Inc.
  • Parallels betw. leaving religion & going vegan
  • Seafood & meat deeply embedded in Louisiana culture
  • Veganism is getting so much easier, like vegetarianism was ~10 yrs ago?
  • Finding elements in cultures & religions that are open to non-human animal ethics (e.g. Andrew Linzey). Compassion, re-casting stewardship & dominion
  • Veganising cajun foods!
  • The deep, global roots of naturalistm & sentiocentrism
  • Compassion for people indoctrinated into doing harm. But public intellectuals, philosophers & Humanists?
  • Moral philosophers seem to be no more moral than anyone else. Experts at post-rationalisation?
  • “Be open to the possibility that you could be wrong about everything you think”
  • Zoonosis, anti-microbial resistance, climate impacts
  • Systemic change
  • Pluralism & pragmatism
  • Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals”
  • BFF’s DefaultVeg initiative – vegan by default!
  • Moral purity vs. effective change. “You’re on a journey but just don’t stop”
  • “I’m concerned with oppression in all its forms”

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

​Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. The main one is here on Facebook.

Thanks to Graham for the post-production!

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