Who are sentientists? Who is involved in the sentientism movement and which organisations work on sentientist causes?
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.
Rem Secora Pearl
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.
Acknowledging sentience and the ability to suffer in all beings, is just the first step towards a fair and decent world. We must also do everything we can to prevent that suffering.
Sentience is all that matters.
Cynthia on Facebook
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.
Sentientism addresses the most important blind spots of Humanism.
Basic rights are not limited to one species, even if we pretend they are.
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.
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.
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.
Cindy Butler Mancini, Ph.D.
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.
Without evidence why believe a thing?
Its the first place to start. It is the basic unit of any ethical system.
Philip on Facebook
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.
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
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.
*Everything* we care about begins at the conscious subjective experience. It is the case that a subjective experience avoids pain, so it is the case we must seek to avoid it.
I am a sentientist because I recognise that all sentient beings have a life that can go better and worse for them. This is enough for us to recognise that they matter.
Flourishing and suffering feel just the same no matter whose mind they are found in.
Floris van den Berg
I am a sentientist because I spend almost all my life observing animals, so I have no doubts about their sentience. My question is: now that evidence from science, reasoning, and feelings show that all beings are sentient, what are we going to do with that truth?
I think… therefore I am a sentientist.
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.
I am a sentientist because I believe that all sentient beings have a right to Fairness and Justice. No animal should have to suffer intentionally or be condemned to suffer unimaginable pain, mental anguish, loss or death.
I am a sentientist because I believe evidence, reason and compassion to all beings is a necessary step to take for a better world.
Dylan B. Raines
Concern for the well-being of all living beings ought to be the highest concern for all living beings.
Sentient beings feel, have consciousness and emotions, yet they are voiceless, there should a be a charter of animal rights
Suffering in any sentient being, even if not human, is still suffering. If our aim as individuals and society is to be “good”, in any kind of definition possible, elimination of suffering is needed.
In my estimation there are certain types of pain that can never be compensated for, the merciless slaughter of animals is only one type.
Differences don’t matter, only sentience does.
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 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.
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.
Sentientism- not only feels right, but actually is one of the most reasonable and convincing concepts I have ever come across
I like to learn about philosophy and hopefully teach it to people.
Compassion for and kindness to every sentient creature.
For me, it is a posthumanist evolution as a human to recognise the ‘non-human animal’ as sentient with individuality – and not objects to be commodified by us.
The consideration of others not based on species is virtuous
It’s a perfect description of my ethical and moral approach to life.
Sentience matters for moral consideration. Evidence, Reason, Universalism.
I believe in reason and am an animal
I realised it’s not just humans, other beings are individuals too. They think, they feel, they have understanding.
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.
No sentient being is above others. I have no right to persecute other beings for food, clothing or vanity. I have freed myself from years of peer pressure, trying to make me do what is wrong.
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’.
I’m a sentientist because i cannot justify ethical isolationism.
Ethics demand that the strong inflict no harm on those who feel pain and fear. Humans are animals, too.
I don’t believe humans are qualitatively more special than other creatures, except insomuch as we flatter ourselves.
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.
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
I’m a sentientist because considering the common attribute of sentient beings, that is, the ability to suffer, has lead me to believe that all sentient beings deserve moral consideration.
Because it is altruism that makes sense!
‘The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?’ Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
All sentient beings have interests that deserve full and rational consideration
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.
Because our choices need to be based on reason.
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.
I’m a sentientist because I believe any living being who processes emotion, good or bad, deserves respect and should be treated as equal.
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
I give value to beings who are sentient rather than being just alive.
my dad told me about it and i thought yep that sounds like me
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’m a sentientist because there’s no better way to understand the universe than using evidence and reason and because our morality should consider any being that can suffer or flourish. @JamieWoodhouse