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.
I give value to beings who are sentient rather than being just alive.
Differences don’t matter, only sentience does.
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.
Compassion and reason the cornerstones of a peaceful and progressive society, and I personally wouldn’t mind calling myself a sentientist. However, as a person who dabbles with faith and faith traditions, I have to respect the beliefs of many, which cannot always be backed by reason. As long as people find their peace. 🙂
Urmi’s Centre for Interfaith Peace and Dialogue on Facebook
All sentient beings have interests that deserve full and rational consideration
I don’t believe humans are qualitatively more special than other creatures, except insomuch as we flatter ourselves.
Sentience matters for moral consideration. Evidence, Reason, Universalism.
Without evidence why believe a thing?
I am an animal rights author, independent scholar, consultant, and speaker. I have 45 years of personal commitment as a vegan and professional experience in leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost animal advocacy organisations. The Kim Stallwood Archive is held by The British Library. I wrote Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate with a Foreword by Brian May (Lantern Books, 2014). I am currently working on the biography of an elephant called Topsy. I became a vegetarian in 1974 after working in a chicken slaughterhouse and a vegan in 1976.
“… Other things being equal, equally strong interests should count equally.”
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.
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.
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
Sentient beings feel, have consciousness and emotions, yet they are voiceless, there should a be a charter of animal rights
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.
Not a choice. I’ve experienced a lot of trauma and loss in my life which has made me extremely sensitive to all suffering. I’ve been vegetarian for over a year but eating vegan since summer.
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.
Basic rights are not limited to one species, even if we pretend they are.
Sentientism matches my philosophical perspective most accurately. All sentient beings deserve our moral consideration.
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.
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
“Nothing is more important than the abolition of suffering in the universe. I believe we can derive meaning and purpose from working to secure our most basic needs and desires, and those of all other sentient beings: to live as long as life is worth living, to avoid suffering, and to pursue our idea of happiness. I created a life philosophy based on this idea: liberationism.org — and sentientism is in line with this view. With solidarity and unconditional compassion for all fellow sufferers.” — BPE.
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
Michael is a writer and activist. He has written, co-written or contributed to seven books and the comedy musical play I, Keano. He has campaigned on many political issues, often with his late wife Anne Holliday, and he is chairperson of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland. He is vegan and a Sentientist.
Michael wrote this article on “Why I am a Sentientist”.
Michael on Wikipedia
This rationale could not be more urgent and more appropriate to the times.
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.
Vicky is Managing Director of The Humane League UK. After working as a veterinary surgeon in the animal agriculture industry she left to focus her career on campaigning for non-human animals. She is vegan and has a naturalistic worldview.
Vicky’s Sentientist Conversation with me is here on YouTube and here on our Podcast (all platforms!).
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.
Because every sentient being deserves to live a life free from unnecessary suffering.
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.
Diana is an evolutionary psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth. Her field of research includes the study of disgust, human sexuality, and hormones and behaviour. She is involved in the effective altruism and animal welfare movements and identifies as a feminist and a Sentientist (she just hasn’t joined our “wall” yet). Diana’s 2018 Darwin Day Lecture, hosted by Humanists UK, was part of the inspiration for our work developing and raising awareness of Sentientism.
Diana on Wikipedia
@sentientist (I told you she’s a Sentientist)
I found out about Sentientism yesterday! And realize I have been adopting this philosophy and developing my way of life since I was a child. First kindness and respect for all animals leading quickly to vegetarianism, later veganism; early Christianity to atheism at 13. This is the way of relating to and moving within the universe that makes sense and feels ethically comfortable.
Jennifer on Facebook
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’.
The cruel phenomena that is unwarrantedly perpetuated to sentient beings; known as suffering, is the most tragic thing that has ever happened in this universe.
Paul is the author of Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World. He is the CEO and co-founder of The Better Meat Co. and the host of the Business for Good Podcast. Prior to publishing Clean Meat, he was known for being an animal protection advocate, both as the founder of Animal Outlook (formerly Compassion Over Killing) and a Vice President at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In 2008, Paul was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame. He is vegan and has a naturalistic worldview.
Paul’s Sentientist Conversation with Jamie is here on our YouTube and will also be released on our Podcast.
Paul’s four Ted Talks
Paul on Wikipedia
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 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.
Because an unexamined life, is not worth living.
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.
“The reasons we articulate today for animals to have rights, we will need in the future, to convince superintelligent AIs to allow us to keep our rights.”
Roman’s Sentientist Conversation with Jamie on YouTube and on the Sentientism Podcast
Roman on Wikipedia
Roman on GoogleScholar
Zion is an author and activist known for her environmental work and science communication. She is UK director of Environmental Progress. She has been a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion (XR) UK on TV and radio, and founded and edited XR’s Hourglass newspaper. She has written for The Huffington Post, authored the evidence-based nonfiction book The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting, and given a TEDx talk. She is vegan and has a naturalistic worldview.
Zion on our SentientistConversations YouTube series and Sentientism Podcast – “Do you want a habitable planet for your children?”
Zion on Wikipedia
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.
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.
Naomi is the CEO of Best for Britain, the UK’s leading non-partisan advocacy group upholding internationalist values. Before her campaigning and political career she worked in the corporate world and chaired a number of voluntary groups. Naomi describes herself as an internationalist, xenophile, humanist, vegan. She co-hosts the Oh God What Now? (formerly Remainiacs) and The Bunker podcasts.
You can watch her Sentientist Conversation with me here on YouTube and listen here on our Podcast.
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.
Logic has brought me to the conclusion that Sentientism is the best philosophy to heal the earth & all beings.
I am a Sentientist because of an inner strong compulsion to express my real human nature. The one that acknowledges that we are not the pinnacle of this planet. We are not superior by any means. We are just a part of life’s web. And we have the potential to shift from being destructors and conquerors to being nurturers and regenerators. To respect and care for all sentient beings including our own kind.
I like to think I spend my time on this planet developing – my intellect, my reason, my compassion. It takes discipline of thought and love to rise above our basic instincts, and I am happy and willing and loving enough to work towards that discipline for the sake of my fellow sentient beings.
Amanda on Wikipedia
Ethics demand that the strong inflict no harm on those who feel pain and fear. Humans are animals, too.
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’m a Sentientist because all suffering matters morally and because evidence and reason are the only ways to really understand our world.”
Peter is a moral philosopher. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, utilitarian perspective. He is known in particular for his book Animal Liberation (1975), in which he argues in favour of veganism, and his essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”, in which he argues in favour of donating to help the global poor. In 2004 Singer was recognised as the Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies. In 2005, the Sydney Morning Herald placed him among Australia’s ten most influential public intellectuals. Singer is a cofounder of Animals Australia and the founder of The Life You Can Save.
Peter on Wikipedia
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.
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
AJ is an American journalist, author, and lecturer best known for writing about his lifestyle experiments, including “The Year of Living Biblically”. He is an editor at large for Esquire and has worked for the Antioch Daily Ledger and Entertainment Weekly. Jacobs is a member of Giving What We Can and pledges 10% of lifelong earnings to charity. He donates to the Against Malaria Foundation and other Effective Altruism organizations. He is ~vegan and an atheist (raised secular Jewish). He has said “I love the Sentientism philosophy – we should see all sentient beings as our extended family”.
My “Sentientist Conversation” interview with AJ on YouTube and on our Sentientism Podcast (also on Anchor)
AJ on Wikipedia
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. More recently, Sentientism has been re-cast to include a wider naturalistic commitment – using evidence and reason in all domains. Richard still considers himself a sentientist 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.
Richard on Wikipedia
“I am a sentientist because: Suffering matters to those who suffer. Sentientism means having compassion for all those who suffer – both human and nonhuman. Sentientism means emancipating all sentient beings who can’t stand up for their own interests. Sentientism is the new moral paradigm. Change will not come by doing nothing. Sentientism is not only a theoretical idea, it includes veganism. Sentientism doesn’t hurt you – nor others.”
Floris’s bio states he is “a philosopher and therefore an atheist”. He is a practical, activist, vegan philosopher. He has written a number of books including “Philosophy for a Better World”, “On Green Liberty”, “De vrolijke veganist” (“The Happy Vegan”) and “Hoe komen we van religie af?” (“How to get rid of religion. An inconvenient liberal paradox”). In 2017, Floris participated in a television series “To Hell With Your Religion”, in which he lived with a group of people of various religions for two weeks, exploring and critiquing religious ideas.
Floris’ Sentientist Conversation with Jamie on YouTube and Podcast
After our conversation, Floris kindly shared a series of posters he has developed that relate to Sentientist themes. These posters, hosted here, remain Floris’ intellectual property but he is happy with them being freely used for educational purposes.
Floris on Wikipedia
Carole is a model, actress, singer/songwriter (she wrote “Slow Love” with Prince), writer and animal activist. She has been a contributor for several animal welfare publications including American Dog Magazine, for who she also worked as an investigative journalist. She had an animal welfare column on Newsvine. She is the West Coast Director of the Companion Animal Protection Society, a national non-profit organisation that investigates puppy mills and pet stores. Carole founded the #MeToo movement in France. She is vegan and an atheist. In our “Sentientist Conversation” video she said “Sentientism feels like home”.
Sentientist Conversations with Carole (YouTube) #1
Sentientist Conversations with Carole (YouTube) #2
Carole on Wikipedia
Carole on Medium
Before I had heard the term ‘Sentientism’ I had already been involved in animal rights and have loved science for as long as I can remember. I hope that during my lifetime, ‘Sentientism’ becomes a normalised term in the public sphere for rational, compassionate people – or at least those of us who strive to that ideal.
Matt on FaceBook
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.
Stijn on our Sentientist Conversations series – “My enemy, which I will destroy, is arbitrariness!”
Because it is altruism that makes sense!
John is a Strategic Lecturer in the School of Law and a Fellow of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. Prior to joining QMUL he was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Birmingham. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law and Fitzwilliam College. He has taught and researched at Cambridge, Durham, Birmingham, the UCL Constitution Unit, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and the UK Commission on a Bill of Rights. Although he started out as a Sunday School teacher, he now has a non-religious worldview. He is a vocal advocate for veganism and salsa dancing.
John’s Sentientist Conversation with me on YouTube
John at Queen Mary Uni of London
my dad told me about it and i thought yep that sounds like me
Commitment to scientific morality.
It’s a perfect description of my ethical and moral approach to life.