We are Sentientists

Why are these people considered ‘nearly’ sentientist?

These are people who have been nominated as a Suspected Sentientist, but don't seem to be Sentientist (yet). This is either because they don't seem to have a naturalistic worldview (committed to evidence and reason, rejecting supernatural beliefs) or because they don't seem to grant meaningful moral consideration to all sentient beings.

Thank you for nominating people. If you have further input I'd love to hear it in the comments for each person. If you are one of these people, feel free to correct things and post yourself on our Wall of Sentientists!

Martha Nussbaum

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Martha was nominated as a "Suspected Sentientist" via our "I know a Sentientist" form (thank you!). More details are forthcoming, but in the meantime, here is Martha on Wikipedia.

Martha has written extensively on non-human animal ethics. While she has focused on developing a capabilities approach she does seem to grant moral consideration to all sentient beings regardless of capabilities. While she seems to have a broadly naturalistic worldview she converted to Judaism in 2008.

Susan Blackmore

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Susan is a writer, lecturer, sceptic, broadcaster, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. Her fields of research include memetics, parapsychology, consciousness, and she is best known for her book The Meme Machine. She has written or contributed to over 40 books and 60 scholarly articles and is a contributor to The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

She has a naturalistic worldview and is a patron of Humanists UK. In this article, she recognises the strong evidence that many non-human animals are capable of experiencing suffering, but refers to "vegetarians" in the third person, saying "Many people become vegetarians because of the way farm animals are treated".

Susan on Wikipedia
Susan at Humanists UK

Dick Gregory

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Richard (Dick) Claxton Gregory was a comedian, civil rights and animal rights and vegan activist. Gregory became popular among the African-American communities in the southern United States with his "no-holds-barred" sets, poking fun at the bigotry and racism in the United States. In 1961 he became a staple in comedy clubs, appeared on national television and released comedy record albums. Gregory was at the forefront of political activism in the 1960s, when he protested against the Vietnam War and racial injustice. He was arrested multiple times and went on many hunger strikes. He later became a speaker and author. He said: " Because I'm a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life. We shouldn't be a part of it."

While he was described as a religious skeptic, it doesn't seem that he held a naturalistic worldview. He said "I am god, you are god." He often talked of spirituality and supported a number of poorly-evidenced conspiracy theories.

Dick on Wikipedia


Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Lawrence "Kris" Parker, better known by his stage name KRS-One, an abbreviation of "Knowledge Reigning Supreme Over Nearly Everyone", and Teacha, is a rapper and producer. He rose to prominence as part of the hip hop group Boogie Down Productions, which he formed with DJ Scott La Rock in the mid-1980s. KRS-One is best known for his hits "Sound of da Police", "Love's Gonna Get'cha (Material Love)", and "My Philosophy". Boogie Down Productions received numerous awards and critical acclaim in their early years.
KRS-One is politically active, having started the Stop the Violence Movement. He's also a vegan activist, as expressed in songs such as "Beef":

"So just before it dies, it cries
In the slaughterhouse full of germs and flies
Off with the head, they pack it, drain it, and cart it
And there it is, in your local supermarket"

While KRS-One has turned away from traditional religions he doesn't have a naturalistic worldview. Referring to his book, The Gospel of Hip Hop, he has said: "this book will be a new religion on the earth ... I think I have the authority to approach God directly, I don't have to go through any religion..."

KRS-One on Wikipedia

Andrés Roemer

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Sean Carroll

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Sean is a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum mechanics, gravity, and cosmology. He is a research professor at the California Institute of Technology Department of Physics. He has been a contributor to the physics blog Cosmic Variance, and has published in scientific journals such as Nature as well as other publications, including The New York Times, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. He has appeared on the History Channel's The Universe, Science Channel's Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, Closer to Truth and Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. Carroll is the author of Spacetime And Geometry, a graduate-level textbook in general relativity, and has also recorded lectures for The Great Courses on cosmology, the physics of time, and the Higgs boson. He is also the author of four popular books. He began a podcast in 2018 called Mindscape, in which he interviews other experts and intellectuals on a variety of science-related topics.

Sean is an atheist and describes himself as a "poetic naturalist". While he does recognise that needlessly causing suffering to sentient beings is morally negative, he considers it acceptable to kill a sentient being without causing suffering if we think it lacks an ability to plan for or conceive of its own future. He uses this perspective to justify his continued use of animal products although remains open minded on the topic.
Sean on Wikipedia

Charles Darwin

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Charles Darwin was a naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science.
While he seemed to recognise the moral worth of sentient non-humans, there seems to be little basis to the suggestion that he was vegan or vegetarian, but his great-great grandson is confident he'd be vegan if he was alive today. Darwin had a naturalistic worldview and considered himself agnostic.
He said: "We have seen that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention and curiosity, imitation, reason, etc., of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or even sometimes in a well-developed condition, in the lower animals.", "There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties ... The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind", and "The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man."
Darwin on Wikipedia

Kat Dennings

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Kat Dennings (Katherine Victoria Litwack), is an actress. She is known for starring as Max Black in the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls and as Darcy Lewis in the Marvel superhero films Thor and Thor: The Dark World. Since making her acting debut in 2000, Dennings has appeared in films including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Big Momma's House 2, Charlie Bartlett, The House Bunny, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Defendor, and Suburban Gothic.
Kat seems to have a naturalistic worldview, having said that Judaism "is an important part of my history, but, as a whole, religion is not a part of my life." In late 2020 she said she was adopting a plant-based diet, although primarily for environmental rather than ethical reasons.
Kat on Wikipedia

Massimo Pigliucci

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Massimo is Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He co-hosted the Rationally Speaking Podcast, and was editor in chief for the online magazine Scientia Salon. He is an outspoken critic of pseudoscience and creationism and an advocate for secularism, science education and Stoicism.

Massimo argues that people, particularly Stoics, should be either vegetarian or vegan. Personally, he remains vegetarian. He says: "I’m going to redouble my personal efforts to follow this path and further reduce my intake of other [sentient animal] foodstuff. I hope you will join me, to reduce both suffering in the world and our carbon footprint as a species. And Seneca adds, you’ll also feel better and think more clearly."

Find Massimo's Sentientist Conversation with me here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Massimo on Wikipedia

A. C. Grayling

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

A.C. or Anthony is a philosopher and author. In 2011 he founded and became the first Master of New College of the Humanities, an independent undergraduate college in London. Until June 2011, he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. He is also a supernumerary fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. He frequently appears in British media discussing philosophy and public affairs.

Anthony is the author of over 30 books on philosophy, biography, history of ideas, human rights and ethics, including The Future of Moral Values (1997), What Is Good? (2000), The Meaning of Things (2001), The Good Book (2011), The God Argument (2013), The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind (2016) and Democracy and its Crises (2017). He was a trustee of the London Library and a fellow of the World Economic Forum, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts.

Anthony has a naturalistic worldview. He is a vice-president of Humanists UK and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

Anthony has been vegetarian since around 1980, saying in this interview "The kinds of animals that people eat – cows, chicken, sheep and so on – are capable of fear and suffering, and experiences of pleasure. They’re sentient to that extent, and I don’t think there’s any argument about that. There is an argument about fish, and certainly an even bigger argument with shellfish, about whether they’re having a pleasant time or can be afraid or suffer – but I’m rather inclined to draw the line well beyond where it might need to be drawn, just on as-it-were safety’s sake. I can eat healthily, pleasantly and well, and enjoy myself without being involved in too much killing of sentient beings capable of suffering and fear. Now, I wear leather shoes and a leather belt and people point out this is inconsistent, and I tell them they are right. Moreover vegetarianism is actually an illogical position, because if you actually were going to take all this very seriously you should really be a vegan, but I find veganism takes up time and thought and attention and is a bit of a struggle, and there are other things to do with one’s life – so being a vegetarian is really a halfway house where you’re personally self-minimising the involvement you have in factory farming – in the slaughter of sentient beings."

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.

A.C. Grayling on Wikipedia

Latest work

Head and shoulders shot of Kendra Coulter smiling towards the camera.

"Commitment to solidarity and a stubborn commitment to hope" - Defending Animals Author - Kendra Coulter - Sentientism Ep: 178

Dr Kendra Coulter is a professor at Huron University and a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. A Sentientism conversation about what's real, who matters and how to make a better world.

"Law is a reflection of the people that make it" - Dr. Iyan Offor - Sentientism Ep:174

Dr Iyan Offor is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Birmingham City University. A conversation about Sentientism - and what's real, who matters and how we can make a better world.

"Welfare protections have failed animals" - Legal Academic Dr Jane Kotzmann - Sentientism Ep:173

Dr. Jane Kotzmann is an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Deakin Law School. A Sentientism conversation about what's real, who matters and how we can make a better world.

"We've made a civilizational error" - Philosopher John Sanbonmatsu - Sentientism Ep:171

John Sanbonmatsu is a writer, philosopher, cultural critic and magician. A conversation about what's real, who matters and how to make a better world.

Join our mailing list and stay up to date


Handcrafted with ♥ by Cage Undefined