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“When I adopted a dog – my whole worldview shifted” – Aditya from Animal Ethics

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on YouTube and here on all the podcast platforms.

Aditya is the wild animal suffering outreach coordinator for Animal Ethics.org. He works in grass-roots animal activism with a variety of organisations. He is studying Animal Protection Law at the National Legal Studies Research Institute in India.

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” As well as the video above, the audio is on our Sentientism Podcast here on Apple and on the other platforms too.

We discuss:
0:00 Welcome

1:22 Aditya’s Intro – Animal Advocacy in India

2:10 What’s Real? From Hinduism to naturalism

  • Growing up Hindu and vegetarian
  • Vedanta. Dualistic theism. Dharma
  • Exploring other forms of spirituality after getting into animal advocacy
  • Veganism clashed with the culture (e.g. dairy)
  • Buddhism
  • Jiddu Krishnamurti, embracing naturalism and rationalism.

5:00 What Matters Morally?

  • The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would want to be treated
  • Learning about sentience, suffering & harm
  • “I used to just consider humans… but when I adopted a dog (Gini!) my whole worldview shifted”
  • Ahimsa as a theme in many worldviews, but most vegetarians in India don’t have a strong connection with farmed animal suffering
  • Sentience as central – the capacity to feel pain or pleasure
  • Singer’s Animal Liberation
  • Sharing a stress reaction with Gini to fireworks
  • “When you realise that all you’ve been taught through your life is wrong”
  • Speciesism & arbitrary discrimination
  • Going vegan. Practically easy but some social challenges
  • Bio, ecocentrism, holism
  • Nature as sacred in some traditions
  • “We need to focus on sentient beings not abstract entities”
  • “Who is being harmed?”
  • Don’t harm sentient beings to protect non-sentient things
  • A lack of relationship doesn’t justify moral exclusion
  • Even simpler sentients might suffer just as much
  • It’s not just avoiding harming, its an obligation to help
  • It doesn’t matter whether the cause of harm is human or not 19:00 Wild animal suffering
  • We need to correct the belief that “if humans leave nature alone nature will be perfect”. Nature is not idyllic
  • High offspring r-strategies drive massive suffering & death

26:15 The Future – dystopias & utopias

  • The risk of creating new dystopias (e.g. insect farming, colonising other planets with more farmed/wild sentient suffering, artificial sentients)
  • Ending speciesism & granting moral consideration to all sentients
  • Technology is a double-edged sword
  • We need moral as well as tech innovation
  • Fixing current problems & avoiding creating new ones

30:26 Which entities are sentient?

  • Sentience as a biologically evolved class of information processing
  • Updating our assessment of sentience using science
  • Is centralisation of structures required?
  • Might simpler animals experience more intense or time compressed suffering (frame rates)?
  • Sentience as multi-dimensional. Intensity isn’t all that matters
  • Humans can mitigate our suffering in ways other animals might not be able to
  • “Haven’t these people heard of plants?”
  • Precautionary principle re: invertebrates
  • High confidence (so far!) plants aren’t sentient

35:00 Human, transhuman, farmed animal, wild animal futures

  • Pragmatic & radical wild animal interventions: Vaccination, helping urban wild animals, rescue, ecosystem interventions, gene drives…
  • The emerging field of welfare biology
  • Human hubris, unintended consequences & prudence
  • Building advocate & public support via research
  • Do we also underestimate the good aspects of wild animal experience too? (Heather Browning)
  • Some animals (e.g. elephants) seem to have good lives
  • Rewilding low suffering ecosystems w/short trophic chains

44:43 Anti-speciesism & sentientism

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info​​​​​​​​​​​​​. Join Aditya on our “I’m a Sentientist” wall using this simple form.

​Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Our biggest so far is here on FaceBook.

Thanks Graham for the post-prod.

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