Jamie Harris

“How can we do the most good for non-human animals?”- Jamie Harris – New Sentientist Conversation

Jamie is co-founder of and researcher at the non-profit Animal Advocacy Careers, a researcher at the Sentience Institute and host of the Sentience Institute Podcast (subscribe!)

In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”. Sentientism is “evidence, commitment and compassion for all sentient beings.”

The audio will also be on our Podcast – subscribe so you don’t miss it (and here on most other platforms).

We discuss:

  • Sentience Institute & the social change required for moral circle expansion
  • Animal Advocacy Careers, helping people & organisations do the most good for animals
  • Growing up non-religious in a scientifically minded family
  • Why would anyone turn to any specific religion if they’ve grown up with a naturalistic worldview?
  • Excessive scepticism? (re: meditation/mindfulness?)
  • Tribalistic identity and belief commitment
  • Humility as a defense against dogma
  • Growing up with caring, duty, conscientiousness & societal obligation as moral values/virtues
  • Turning away from animal consumption at 4-5 years old!
  • Do young people generally start with a compassionate outlook?
  • Do young people start with a very narrow moral circle that expands over time?
  • Similarity to humans/anthropomorphism as a key moral circle driver
  • Brian Tomasik’s video of (non-sentient) bacteria being killed triggering an anthropomorphic response
  • Setting moral considerability based on sentience, crystallised by Singer’s Animal Liberation
  • Moral consideration for reasons beyond sentience (autonomy/capabilities/relational)?
  • Instrumental vs. intrinsic value
  • There is no morally good or bad outcome beyond the experiences of sentient beings
  • Ecocentrism/biocentrism
  • Utilitarianism/Deontology/Consequentialism/Virtue
  • Relational & hybrid approaches (Gunkel/Coeckelbergh/Gellers) and their risks
  • Anthropocentrism
  • Sentientism as a buttress against all oppression
  • The dangers of excluding very unfamiliar types of sentients (Tomasik)
  • Moral & epistemological uncertainty & being prudent
  • Sentience as a rich class of information processing
  • The hard problem of consciousness
  • Powerpointism vs. panpsychism
  • Artificial/alien sentience (paper forthcoming)
  • Effective Altruism – doing the most good
  • Longtermism vs presentism
  • Moral circles defined by social norms vs. philosophical logic
  • Social change – behaviour and attitudes
  • Institutional vs. individual (Go Vegan) change
  • Cultivated/clean meat, plant-based tech
  • Historic social movements have succeeded more through institutional change tactics (e.g. British vs US anti-slavery campaigns)
  • Individuals can drive institutional change
  • The most impactful animal advocacy career paths (non profits, law, policy + politics, academia, tech alternatives, earning to give)
  • The inevitable end of animal farming
  • The dangers of complacency
  • Sentience Institute’s “Foundational Questions”
  • Sentience Institute’s podcast
  • Effective Animal Advocacy – Discussion FaceBook Group.

You can follow Jamie on Twitter.

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at Sentientism.info. Help normalise compassion and rationality by joining our “wall” using this simple form.

Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook.

Thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-prod work on this video. Follow him @cgbessellieu.


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