Dr. Mark Solomon is an author, neuropsychologist, musician and radio show/podcast host whose work touches on a wide range of topics. Mark produces a national Street Epistemology radio show/podcast called “Being Reasonable” (beingreasonableshow.com, @B_Reasonable_, @Being Reasonable).
In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
01:25 Mark’s Intro
- @Street Epistemology. Conversations about “what you know and how you know it” @Anthony Magnabosco , Reid Nicewonder @Cordial Curiosity
02:44 What’s Real?
- Flat Earth
- Backfire effect
- Talking less about the belief & more about the reasons for the belief
- Improving our epistemology, not just “correcting” beliefs
- “I grew up in a Jewish household that didn’t discuss god”
- Living with two separate epistemologies: naturalism / humanism but culturally Jewish
- “I couldn’t even tell you that my rabbi believed in the supernatural”
- SE as a tool anyone can use
- Evidence & reason
- Objectivity & subjectivity
- Reality, truth, belief & opinion
- Starting conversations with understanding how people think of truth
27:44 What Matters?
- “I don’t know”
- “I try to be a selfless person but sometimes I act selfishly”
- “I just act – I don’t know if I have a choice”
- Uncertainty, psychology & moral foundations
- Suffering vs. flourishing (causing bad feelings in others is bad)
- Moral origins in evolution & psychology
- Determinism & free will
- Pre & non-human morality
- Compassion & co-operation as evolutionarily adaptive
- Virtue, deontology, utility, feminist care, relational ethics
- “If there were no sentient beings there would be no morality”
- Internal (warm fuzzy feelings, reciprocity…) & external reasons to be good
- True altruism & demandingness. “At least don’t needlessly cause suffering & death”
- Emotional & intellectual routes to compassion
- Alleviating suffering vs. enhancing flourishing
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
48:15 Who Matters?
- Nagel’s “What is it like to be a bat?”
- Getting backyard chickens for eggs & as pets
- “It’s become painfully obvious to us that they are really smart creatures with their own social order… they definitely feel suffering.”
- “There are some really stark commonalities between humans & chickens”
- Inferring sentience (evo, info proc architecture, behaviour/comms, contact & intuition)
- “I’m not vegan but I get it”
- Avoidance, deliberate ignorance (e.g. egg/dairy production) reassuring fabrications (“humane” farming), wishful thinking, cognitive dissonance, akrasia
- “My father in law is a cattle farmer”
- “I don’t really have a good reason [not to be vegan]”
- Veganising meals
- Vegan endurance athletes
- “If theres’s two people in a marriage, & one decides to go vegan…”
- For most atheists, humanists, sceptics, rationalists… animal ethics is like kryptonite
- The best arguments against Sentientism?
- “Whenever someone challenges sentiocentric moral consideration – it’s very hard to do that without excluding some humans”
- What would reduce my confidence in Sentientism?
- What reasons could there be for rejecting reasoning? 🙂
- Insect sentience
01:20:36 How Can We Make a Better World?
- “Having incorrect beliefs… can definitely impact the lives of other people” (e.g. Antivaxx)
- Street Epistemology: if we have a better epistemology we’ll be in a much better place
- Are all human-cased problems due to failures of compassion or epistemology?
- “20 years from now this conversation will seem antiquated”
- Is/ought vs. epistemology & ethics complementing each other
- SE: “Taking the heat off the belief” and talking about how the belief was formed
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.
Thanks Graham for the post-production.