Marcus Daniell playing tennis

“I would consider myself a Sentientist now” – Tennis pro Marcus Daniell

Find our conversation on YouTube or podcast.

Marcus (@MarcusDaniell) is a professional tennis player from New Zealand. He is a philanthropist and an advocate for effective altruism through his work as the founder of High Impact Athletes and as a member of Giving What We Can.

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” Watch on YouTube above or find the audio on our Podcast – subscribe on Apple here​​​​ & on the other platforms here.

We discuss:
0:00 Welcome

1:45 Marcus intro – pro tennis and High Impact Athletes charity

3:02 What’s real?

  • Growing up on a farm in New Zealand
  • A “spiritual” father and a “hippie” mother
  • Pragmatism, a love for nature and animals, but a comfort with death. Hunting as a child
  • Attending Christian schools
  • Enjoying Religious Education but never buying in. Being agnostic/atheist from a young age
  • Moving alone to Slovakia for tennis
  • Discovering “spirituality” and eastern philosophies
  • Studying philosophy at university
  • Discovering animal ethics but thinking “I’m an athlete, I need meat”
  • A turning point when a friend ordered whale in a sushi restaurant in Tokyo
  • Going veg*an a week later
  • Finding awe and wonder in a naturalistic/scientific worldview
  • “Put me next to the ocean or in a forest or a jungle and it’s like experiencing magic for me”
  • Naturalistic karma? Putting positive energy into the world and getting positive things back

14:06 What matters? Humans and non-humans

  • Meeting a vegan tennis pro
  • “I now feel like I’m living in my space in the world – in the right way”
  • A sense of solidity… “That’s really helped me”
  • Our lack of understanding of non-human sentients
  • Intelligence vs. sentience as a moral qualifier
  • “I would consider myself a sentientist now”
  • I try to give respect to all sentient beings. If they can suffer, try not to cause them suffering
  • Artificial sentients? Does suffering matter regardless of species or substrate?
  • Sentience as an evolved class of information processing that could also be programmed in
  • Luna the puppy makes an audio appearance
  • Existential, catastrophic and suffering risks (S-risks)
  • Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation. Trying not to cause suffering
  • It’s so easy not to think. “I wonder how we can create more of these culturally shocking moments to make more people understand”
  • The morals were somewhere there, just hidden under layers of culture and tradition

28:05 The Future

  • Talking to others about animal products and hearing “We agree on all the reasons but I’m not going to make the change”
  • “I would love for the world to be plant-based”
  • Is regenerative animal farming an option?
  • Can slaughter ever be humane?
  • The broad common ground re: rejecting factory farming
  • #JustTransition
  • The inefficiency and waste of animal farming
  • High Impact Athletes & Effective Altruism
  • Extreme poverty, climate change and animal welfare as charitable causes
  • The radical differences in charity effectiveness
  • Athletes donating effectively and influencing their fans to do good
  • Creating a norm in the athlete world of donating a percentage of income to highly effective charities
  • The amazing opportunity to do good through effective charities

39:31 Following Marcus and HIA

  • A dollar is the same whether it comes from LeBron James or Joe Bloggs

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at​​​​​​​​​​​​​. Join Marcus on our “I’m a Sentientist wall” using this simple form​.

Marcus is on our “celebs” page here. Help nominate some more!

​Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest is here on Facebook​. Thanks Graham for the post-prod @cgbessellieu.

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