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Sentientism in action

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 Richard Ryder has commented that contemporary politics often lacks two crucial ingredients: “a moral theory and a respect for the facts” (Ryder (2006) quoted in “Reasoned Politics” by Suspected Sentientist Magnus Vinding).

A Sentientist politics would address both of those ingredients by representing the interests of all sentient beings and implementing 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!). Maybe instead of democracy we need sentocracy?
  • 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
  • Interspecies diplomacy as discussed in this paper by Tore Fougner and by Sentientism podcast guest David Peña-Guzmán
  • Links between Sentientist Politics and Sentientist Economics.

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.

The Party for the Animals International Movement and the Animal Politics Foundation they founded helps to co-ordinate national political groups working to represent the interests of non-human animals around the world. They support secularism and ground their policy work in naturalistic, scientific thinking.

National

The Animal Politics Foundation has a list of national parties focused on animal ethics here. They have a range of stances re: naturalism and therefore sentientism. Those below do seem to have a generally naturalistic approach:

Australia:

The Animal Justice Party aims to give a political voice to animals through lobbying and contesting elections in the Australian Parliamentary System (see my conversation with AJP convener Michael Dello-Iacovo). Their policy platform includes a long-term, total transition to plant-based agriculture. As of 2022 they have three elected Members of Parliament. Their core values include a commitment to “Rationality” alongside Kindness, Equality and Non-violence. They are on Twitter at @animaljusticeAU.

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.

Thanks to the work of the non-profit GAIA, as of 2024 the Belgian Constitution now contains the wording: “In the exercise of their respective powers, the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions shall ensure the protection and welfare of animals as sentient beings.

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 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 seem to still hold them tightly.

Ireland:

Sentient Rights Ireland is a political party that advocates for non-human animal rights, human rights, climate justice and a fast and fair transition to systems that enable those. They don’t have an explicit position on epistemology but seem to have a broadly naturalistic approach.

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.

The Dutch Party for the Animals applies four principles to their work on behalf of all our planet’s inhabitants, both human and non-human: compassion, sustainability, personal freedom and personal responsibility. They support secularism and ground their policy work in naturalistic, scientific thinking, for example through their Nicolaas G. Pierson Foundation. Their youth organisation is PINK!

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.

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