Who are sentientists? Who is involved in the sentientism movement and which organisations work on sentientist causes?
You can meet some sentientists on our “I’m a sentientist” wall and even add yourself if the philosophy fits personally. We’re also building a list of Suspected Celebrity Sentientists – some of the names might surprise you. You can suggest others using our “I know a Sentientist” form here.
Millions of people around the world are sentientists, in that they are committed to evidence and reason and grant moral consideration to all sentient beings. Many of them will identify as atheists, secular humanists, skeptics or free-thinkers who take animal ethics seriously, but most of them haven’t yet heard of the term “sentientism”.
If approximately 10% of the world’s population (~780 million) are atheists or secular humanists and around 10% (~780 million) are ethical vegans or vegetarians (as a proxy for meaningful moral consideration for sentient animals), that would imply there are around 78 million people whose worldview is fairly close to sentientism.
In practice, anecdotal evidence indicates that humanists and atheists are more likely to be vegan or vegetarian and vegans and vegetarians are more likely to be atheists or humanists. Of course, some atheists have other non-deity supernatural beliefs so aren’t sentientists. Also, many vegans or vegetarians might have other rationales beyond compassion for sentients.
You can find some sentientists in our various online communities. So far, people from around 70 countries, some on every habitable continent, are involved.
The following section sets out some organisations and groups that link to sentientist themes and campaigns:
The Sentience Institute: Expanding humanity’s moral circle. The Sentience institute isn’t explicitly sentientist, although it is committed to the use of evidence and reason in its work to help extend humanity’s moral circle to all sentients – primarily farmed animals.
Sentient Media: Reporting on animals, animal rights and human choices. Sentient Media isn’t sentientist with respect to naturalism and the supernatural, but shares a sentientist objective re: helping extend our moral circle to include sentient animals.
Sentience Politics is a political think tank working to reduce suffering for non-human animals, with a focus on publishing policy papers and launching political initiatives in Switzerland and Germany. They’re not sentientist with respect to naturalism and the supernatural, but share a sentientist objective of reducing suffering for sentient animals.
Effective Altruism is a movement trying to answer one simple question, using evidence and reason: how can we use our resources to help others the most? Then following that through into action. While many EA causes are focused on humans, others explicitly address the experiences of all sentient beings. EA is also not explicitly sentientist re: naturalism and supernaturalism (there are many religious effective altruists) – but it is committed to the use of evidence and reason in its work.
The Animalist: Rational arguments for extending Humanism to sentient animals. A logical, friendly and pragmatic approach to animal advocacy. Animalism is a very similar philosophy to Sentientism in that it retains the humanist commitment to evidence and reason but extends moral consideration to all sentient animals. Many animalists would likely also grant consideration to non-biological sentients if we were to encounter or create them.
The Reasoned Vegan: The Reasoned Vegan is a project dedicated to making vegan advocacy more effective, more scientific, and less stereotypical. They promote and encourage skepticism, scientific understanding, and humility in all things vegan.
Here’s a wall of sentientists. You can add yourself too on our “I’m a Sentientist!” page.
Because every sentient being deserves to live a life free from unnecessary suffering.
Because an unexamined life, is not worth living.
This rationale could not be more urgent and more appropriate to the times.
Why I’m A Sentientist:
– All suffering matters morally.
– No sentient being deserves to be treated as a commodity.
– Existing treatment is neither necessary for survival or morally justifiable.
– Cognitive science will continue to expand our understanding of the many forms of sentience.
– Recognizing our underlying genetic unity (ex. LUCA) is reason enough to universalize our compassion.
I believe in extending moral consideration to all sentient beings as individuals with their own interests and values. I am also a longtime Humanist and member of the AHA because I believe in the separation of church and state and the promotion of a scientific rationalist point of view.
Commitment to scientific morality.
All sentient beings have interests that deserve full and rational consideration
my dad told me about it and i thought yep that sounds like me
Without evidence why believe a thing?
I’m a sentientist because I believe that non-human animals have the same right to freedom from enslavement, exploitation and torture, as human animals. They have the same capacity for pleasure and suffering and should therefore be protected from being reduced to an unfeeling asset.
Ethics demand that the strong inflict no harm on those who feel pain and fear. Humans are animals, too.
Because I care about what’s true and what’s fair, and would hasten the day when it’s the norm to take seriously the interests of sentient beings, human and otherwise.
Sentient beings feel, have consciousness and emotions, yet they are voiceless, there should a be a charter of animal rights
not fully sure yet. i so far like what i hear but like any group like this i like to check out the people and see if they match the words
For all we know, sentient experience is all there is, and even if isn’t, it’s not clear what else could possible matter. Being capable of experiencing happiness or suffering is all it takes to make one morally relevant, for one to matter, on pain of incoherence or inconsistency in our approach and attitude to our existential predicament.
Aatu on Facebook
I am a sentientist because I believe that no living being is inherently more valuable than another based on immutable traits: race, gender, age, or species. The value of life stems from pleasure, so to enslave or kill a being which can feel pleasure, or might be able to in the future (note that this includes nonsentient embryos and fetuses, but not a being which is braindead or cannot feel) is to rob it of all potential future pleasure.
I selected all sentient perceptual experience as my ultimate ethical value after studying philosophy and completely rebuilding my ethical beliefs without previous dogmas. It came as a result of thoughts that emerged around the being-for-itself concept in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness book and Peter Singer’s work. Consequently I have become an act utilitarian, vegan and an effective altruist. The concept has had a profound impact on my significant long-term decisions. I am confident that the world would be significantly better for everyone if everyone valued sentient experience, maximised positive perceptual experience and minimised negative perceptual experience.
All the sentient creatures of the earth are deserving of equal treatment. We are born of the same family and it is beyond unethical for one species to lay waste to the earth for the sake of exploiting its kin. All living beings have value and we, as the ethically minded beings of this world, must work to preserve their wellbeing and that of the Earth.
We seem to have developed a different attitude to sentient animals based on their utility (or competition) to humans as written about by Jonathan Foer in ‘Some we love, some we hate, some we eat’. Others, as a means of defense, attribute sentience to plants. If we are serious about Humanism, we need to understand that, as rational beings, we have to extend our circle of compassion to those who we exploit including enslaving companion animals for our own enjoyment.
Kevin on FaceBook
All animals think and feel whether an ant or elephant, shark or lobster. We are not outside of the animal kingdom, we are part of it.
I’m a sentientist because the collective denial of the suffering of other beings makes us unworthy of our privileged place among the creatures of this planet.
It is my core value that every sentient being deserves a good, happy life. Whatever their race, religion, class, gender, sexuality or species may be. I want their suffering to stop. Reason and evidence is a must when trying to solve questions on how to help those who suffer, to discover who is suffering and how they are suffering. I prefer sentientism over animalism because it doesn’t limit our moral circle to animals, but opens it to any kind of being who may be able to feel pain.
I give value to beings who are sentient rather than being just alive.
Basic rights are not limited to one species, even if we pretend they are.
I don’t believe humans are qualitatively more special than other creatures, except insomuch as we flatter ourselves.
“… Other things being equal, equally strong interests should count equally.”
Sentientism, like veganism for me, is very much a guiding principle in life. It came to me as a revelation in my late teens, that life choices held such hypocrisy. I found myself in turmoil over consuming some animals, whilst protecting others. I began to question the disparity around the world, the human injustice & wanton exploitation of the natural world. I realised I was a believer in sentientism fundamentally…that I was seeking to make decisions based on best insights into science, evidence, reason and supported with a compassionate disposition. It came natural to me, as I chose veganism. Understanding that all life has an innate right to exist..that it is not our place to attribute a ‘scale of value’ to beings, with humankind at the peak. Sentientism is the ultimate liberation from the man-made tyranny of rigid belief systems. It is simply ‘freedom’.
Sentientism means that we should take into account all and everyone’s positive and negative feelings, without arbitrary exceptions. No-one and nothing can consistently or reasonably object to sentientism, because disagreeing with sentientism means having negative feelings about it and believing that those negative feelings should not be arbitrarily excluded from moral considerations.
Differences don’t matter, only sentience does.
If a sentientist is someone who wants to use evidence, reason and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings, I consider myself a sentientist.
“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” – Bertrand Russell
Humanity should come out of the human-centric bubble. However, too often animals are viewed with partisan sentimentality or ignorant disregard, as economic utility or nuisances. I think we need to be guided by evidence-based reason, wonder, care & curiosity to restore the bond with our beautiful world and minimize all suffering. If we judge ourselves to be capable of any moral progress, we will understand the need to live without being a threat to all living creatures around us.
Because we all share a common ancestor and common instincts and biological machinery. To pretend we are very different from our fellow earthlings, particularly other mammals, is hubris.
I believe that suffering experienced by sentient beings is the greatest “evil” in this world, and I’m committed to doing everything I can to reduce it.
Curiosity helped me the most. Knowledge fills you up. Observing something is a pleasure, deducing something else from it is another. I do Science just for the sake of it – I do research, publish and teach without being paid affiliated with academics, and it just makes sense for me.
I’ve chosen to follow this idea because I believe all life is worthy of freedom, happiness, and love with very general intrinsic value surviving in a world which they choose to avoid death and suffering as far as practicable, I also think it’s very anthropocentric to trivialise the exploitation of non-human animals as commodities simply because they’re different forms of life. We should really put into regard that these are sentient beings who feel pain, emotion, and nonsensically & unnecessarily suffer everyday for the sake of human gratification.
I’ve considered myself a secular Humanist for the past 35 years or so, but at an even younger age, before the double digits, I felt that the injustices to other sentient beings, for example the suffering of laboratory animals for the benefit of humans and the rape of rain forests and indigenous peoples, was and still is a terribly myopic view of our role as part of life on Earth, and a completely unfair imbalance in favor of one species, or nation, at the detriment to all other sentients. I feel it’s natural that these two philosophies are part of one way.
Because it is altruism that makes sense!
If an organism seeks to avoid death and can suffer pain–even if not nerve-based as that which we are accustomed to–it is sentient and should be accorded rights. Both nonhuman animals as well as other intelligences, even if their origin may have been artificial.
It’s a perfect description of my ethical and moral approach to life.
Sentience matters for moral consideration. Evidence, Reason, Universalism.
If you take a moment out of your busy day to think about life on Earth, it’s obvious that all sentient life whether arachnids, mollusks, reptiles, insects, birds, mammals, amphibians (in no particular order) is pretty miraculous. Who am I, (as a mammal), to say that my life is more valuable that that of an insect. All sentient life is caring, feeling and complex.