Richard is a writer, psychologist, and animal rights advocate. He coined the term "speciesism" in 1970 and was one of the first to use the term "Sentientism" in a positive light, after it was first used in a derogatory sense by John Rodman in 1977 to criticise Peter Singer and Richard's thinking.
Richard developed the term sentientism in a naturalistic context – using evidence and reason to infer sentience and to grant moral consideration to sentient beings. Richard still considers himself a Sentientist in this naturalistic context today. He has also developed painism, a sub-set of the sentientist worldview that focuses on the moral importance of pain over that of positive experiences and aims to resolve the tensions between rights and utilitarian approaches.