David is an activist & chief petitioner of the Yes On IP13 campaign (www.yesonip13.org & @yesonip13) which aims to outlaw the harming & killing of sentient animals in the US state of Oregon. That’s without exceptions for animal agriculture, hunting, research or other forms of exploitation. Originally with a background in psychology & public health, David’s switch to activism began after bearing witness to pigs being killed in gas chambers.
In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
01:29 David’s Intro
- Being new to activism
- IP13: Criminalising killing & breeding animals in the state of Oregon
- “We’re asking for what we want”
- Linking the academic & the real world
04:03 What’s Real?
- Culturally Jewish/Christian family branches
- Religion was just a label
- Having a Bar Mitzvah to “side with my mother… it made religion seem arbitrary to me”
- “They taught me how to read Hebrew but never taught me what I was saying”
- “It wasn’t a worldview… it wasn’t used to make sense of the world”
- “Sitcoms were more of a determinant of what’s real”
- Meeting people who had done atheist & animal outreach
- “Free yourself from those harmful social norms!”
- UFOs, conspiracy theories & religion
- There’s enough awesomeness in reality
- “I was angry when I learned that Santa wasn’t real”
- Investigating Santa as a child w/a hidden camera
- Why do we lie to children about so many things?
- Homeopathy, “stop the steal”, astrology, tea leaves…
- “Psychedelics made me more naturalistic & gave me the final push to go vegan as well”… connectedness
- Buddhism & Plum Village monks
- Talking to a flat earther
- The challenge of having enough, but not too much scepticism
- Epistemological & methodological naturalism
- “Pretend naturalism” (only considering evidence supporting what you already want to believe)
- What evidence would change your mind?
24:55 What (& Who) Matters?
- Intuitive ethics
- Vegetarian at 14 “I didn’t want to eat animals”
- “‘I’m not very much of an animal lover”
- “I thought that cows had to be milked” & eggs were “picked up like an easter egg hunt”
- Going vegan, then learning about dairy/eggs
- Watching Dominion then getting involved in activism
- “A baseline of avoiding violence”
- Compassion for victims vs. judging human actions
- Judging moral agents (actions/decisions) vs. the impact on moral patients/victims (outcomes)
- Freedom from fear & violence as a need of individual sentient beings
- Non-violence is the the best way of meeting all of our needs
- Free will & determinism & moral luck
- Restoration/rehabilitation/protection/deterrence vs retributive justice
- Non-violent communication, Rosenberg
- Beauvoir’s “Ethics & Ambiguity”
- “The freedom to oppress others isn’t a freedom we should respect”
- Anti-Vaxx: bodily autonomy vs. putting others at risk
- “Everything comes back to sentience”
- Fear of violence as an imposition on freedom & flourishing
- “The animals live mostly under fear”
- “Only sentient beings have these sorts of needs”
- Still feel connected to non-sentient things but there’s a distinction
- “You can’t grant rights to a river & not to a pig”
- “There’s no sentience at the species level”
- Wild animal suffering, whether human caused or not
- “All suffering has to matter, surely?”
- “Until people start caring about the animals they’re directly hurting…” will they care about wild animals?
53:58 How Can we Make a Better World?
- David’s IP13 Nov 2022 election ballot measure in Oregon: “A bottom up approach to legislation”
- Helpful naivety: “You need to be naive to challenge institutions like this!”
- 112k supporting signatures, then on the ballot, then a public yes/no vote
- Animal abuse is “intentional reckless injury of an animal”
- If you’re enjoying the physical or sexual abuse you’re bad. If you’re abusing for other reasons – that’s fine
- Victims’ perspective is ignored
- Remove exemptions (farming, hunting, pest control, fishing, research) from Oregon’s animal cruelty law. Criminalising injuring & breeding & killing of animals
- “create a sanctuary state”
- “I don’t know if it’s the most effective but it’s authentic” (vs. welfare)
- Anyone can donate!
- Laws influence ethics
- “We can choose what is right & wrong”
- #JustTransition plans, property status, sanctuaries
- Give farmers the opportunity to really care for animals
- The goal is to stop this everywhere, not just Oregon.
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook. David and I are already there!
Thanks Graham for the post-production.