“Morality isn’t linked to religion” – Amy Wilson – Activist Lawyer – New Sentientist Conversation on Podcast and YouTube

Amy (@Ms_AmyPWilson​) is an Animal, Human & Earth Rights Lawyer. She founded the Animal Law Reform & Animal Law Africa NGOs. She works as the Aquatic Animal Law Initiative Fellow at the Center for Animal Law Studies and volunteers with a number of other organizations in South Africa, across Africa and in the USA. In South Africa, Amy has leadership roles with the Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations and the Humane Education Trust. Throughout Africa, she works with Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa.

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 here on Apple & all the other platforms​.

We discuss:

  • Social justice & taking integrated approaches to animal, human & even earth rights
  • Growing up in post-apartheid South Africa
  • Attending convent school as a Presbyterian (non-Catholic) christian. Feeling excluded & “lesser”
  • Reading the Bible: “Revelations was my jam!”
  • Realising the inconsistencies in religion
  • Encountering homophobia “Am I somehow damned to hell” for being bi-sexual?
  • “Everything kind of feels sinful”
  • The fear around questioning. Asking even the uncomfortable questions
  • Learning about other religions. Commonalities & rigidity
  • Moving from religion to spirituality. Universal compassion for all beings. Still exploring.
  • Moving away from religion because of evidence/reason & warped ethics
  • The “dominion over animals” concept
  • The pre-human origins of morality
  • The use of religion as a weapon of oppressive colonial power
  • Being open-minded about whether we are part of a broader universal consciousness
  • Gaia and spirituality. Does consciousness create matter?
  • The power of never being completely sure of anything
  • The risks of religious & scientistic dogmas & arrogance
  • “Morality isn’t linked to religion”
  • The Golden Rule
  • Everything is connected, every one matters
  • Going vegetarian then vegan. “It took a long time for me to connect the dots. I loved animals so much & I didn’t realise eating them was wrong”
  • The “aha moment” while eating an animal
  • The truth of animal agriculture is legally hidden from us & obscured with “happy animal” marketing
  • Our sisters both helped led the way re: cutting out animal products
  • Being mocked in South Africa as the only friend who was vegetarian
  • Does “god as universe” lead to less damaging ethics than “god as person”?
  • The risks of assessing sentience wrongly (e.g. we’ve only recently become more confident about fish sentience)
  • Insect farming is scaling quickly before we really understand their sentience
  • The challenge of drawing clear lines when the reality re: sentience (and everything) is fuzzy
  • Degrees of sentience & grades of moral consideration
  • The law: Animals seen as products & objects. That enables awful harm & exploitation
  • The concern that seeing the environment as instrumental might not be enough. It has’t worked so far
  • Granting rights to nature. Giving it legal standing
  • The trifecta of human, animal & nature rights
  • Why most environmentalists are more ready to grant rights to a mountain than they are to a pig or a fish
  • Ecocide, homicide… but what about senticide?
  • The power of language re: ethics & values
  • We’ve had animal cruelty laws for decades & people know that non-human animals suffer. The problem is putting human interests above that
  • Most animal product consumption is “for pleasure” in the same way that trophy hunting is “for pleasure”
  • The challenges of food deserts & food choice availability
  • Shouldn’t human capabilities come with responsibilities?
  • Tech got us into this problem & it might be a way to get us out (clean meat, green tech, VR zoos)
  • The role of the law: requiring alternatives, enforcing accountability
  • De-colonialism & a renewed respect for nature
  • The possibility of artifical or alien sentients?
  • Pre-empting instead of reacting
  • Is sentience a class of info processing?
  • The plague of “whataboutism”
  • These issues are all connected & considering AI/alien ethics helps with other challenges too
  • Universalism re: naturalism & sentiocentric compassion and pluralism for everything else?
  • The law can lead not just follow. Can remind us of principles
  • Currently the law is a tool to oppress animals. A weapon
  • Aquatic animals are the next frontier (3rd Apr World Aquatic Animal Day & Seaspiracy watch party!)

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

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

Thanks, Graham for the post-prod: @cgbessellieu.

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