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?”
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)
- 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
- Talking more about speciesism & sentientism
- Going beyond farmed animals to consider wild animals
- Race, caste, gender, species etc. aren’t morally salient “What matters is that we are all sentient”
- Animal Ethics’ Wild Animal Suffering YouTube course
- Animal Ethics website is now in 8 languages
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Our biggest so far is here on FaceBook.
Thanks Graham for the post-prod.