All of JamieWoodhouse's Comments + Replies

Some thoughts on vegetarianism and veganism

As in human ethics, the perspective of the victims cuts through this topic pretty cleanly for me.

As a thought experiment, imagine writing an article considering these sorts of nuances re: a human ethics topic where individuals are needlessly being harmed & killed for the pleasure of others.

Future-proof ethics

Thanks Holden - great article.

The Sentientism web site (and the Sentientism podcast/YouTube series of conversations) proposes Sentientism as an explicitly naturalistic, sentiocentric worldview. I summarise it as "evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings".  Feedback very welcome.

Methodological naturalism is so obvious to many that it's often left unstated. However, given most people on the planet have their ethics  shaped (warped?) by unfounded and / or supernatural beliefs it seems important to specify this epistemological stance a... (read more)

What is meta Effective Altruism?

Hi Vaidehi - thanks for the post!

Would you see worldview advocacy as part of meta-EA? Moral circle expansion and moral advocacy more generally are examples often referenced within EA - but some worldviews go beyond morality into epistemology.

As an example, I work (amateurishly) on developing and building community around Sentientism as a combination of naturalism and sentiocentrism. I summarise it as "evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings." Some think of it as a corrective to the anthropocentrism of secular Humanism.



The applicability of transsentientist critical path analysis

Thanks Peter. You might find this site interesting re: Sentientism There's a global community growing up around it. I think of Sentientism as recognising the moral salience of sentience regardless of species or substrate - so entirely consistent with "transsentientism".

Attempt at understanding the role of moral philosophy in moral progress

Thanks - interesting perspectives.

I'm working to build a global movement around the moral philosophy of Sentientism (basically secular humanism extended to grant moral consideration to all sentient beings). It has much in common with EA values, of course - although it's explicitly naturalistic.

The community is new and small (although people from 56 countries involved so far in our main FaceBook group) - but anecdotally I've seen a fairly balanced mix of H1-H2-H3 so far. For some, sentientism just gives a name to a philosophy they already he... (read more)

Effective animal advocacy movement building: a neglected opportunity?

Thanks Jamie. I have another movement building example to add to your list - focusing on expanding our moral circle. I'm working (rather amateurishly) to raise awareness of sentientism. It's a modern re-casting of Peter Singer / Richard Ryder's philosophy as an explicitly naturalistic extension of humanism. Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient things.

Short read here:

We're building online communities in various places ... (read more)

Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

Thanks Max.

I'm an amateur here so my confidence level isn't necessarily that high. I am taking "degrees of sentience" from the research (as summarised in Luke's paper) that shows varying levels of complexity in the nervous systems that generate sentience and the behaviours that demonstrate it. Given sentience is a subjective experience it's hard to judge its quality or intensity directly. However, from examining behaviour and hardware / biology, it does appear that some types of sentience are likely to be richer than others (... (read more)

Yeah, fair enough. I wish you good luck with your group and project :)
Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience

Thanks Max - More research in this space feels important. For me, degrees of sentience should determine how much moral consideration we should grant to things (animals, humans, maybe even aliens and AGIs).

I wrote this re: sentientism - may be of interest .

Thanks Jamie! Nice article. Thanks for the link. I don't think I agree with your claim in the article that degrees of sentience has been scientifically demonstrated. Is there a source you have in mind for that? I've been looking at the literature on the topic and it seems like the arguments that there do exist degrees of sentience are based in philosophy and none are that strong. I guess the reason you are using sentientism rather than hedonistic utilitarianism is because you think the term sounds better/has a better framing?
Sentientism: Improving the human epistemology and ethics baseline

Thanks all. I'd love to hear thoughts from anyone who has downvoted. No obligation of course.

Alasdair - I think I'm reasonably familiar with EA but I could have been clearer. I was trying to explore two points:

1) Given both sentientism and EA focus on using evidence and reason and having broad moral compassion - I thought the term and the philosophy might be of interest to EA people generally.

2) Many (all?) of the problems EA looks to address are exacerbated by the fact that billions of people believe and act without a basis in evidence, reaso... (read more)

Sentientism: Improving the human epistemology and ethics baseline

Thanks Aidan - really appreciate the feedback.

Sentientism isn't a comprehensive moral system as you say - it leaves open all of the questions you list and others. It's similar to secular humanism in that way. My intention in promoting Sentientism is for it to be a simple, unifying baseline philosophy - rather than something comprehensive. For many in the EA community the philosophy will be unremarkable or even obvious, but billions of people around the world are very happy believing and acting without evidence, reason or broad moral compassio... (read more)

Remote Volunteering Opportunities in Effective Altruism

One of my favourite on-line, easy, direct volunteering initiatives is via From an EA perspective the benefit may be hard to quantify - as it's 2nd / 3rd order. Aim is to help a variety of local NGOs / charities become more effective through using donated satellite imagery to build open source maps. The local teams can then immediately use these maps + local people can take them on and enhance. Initiatives supported include disaster response as well as longer-term poverty / health / human rights interventions. Ping me at @jamiewoodhouse if you want to know more. Great post by the way - thanks.

This is a very concrete action. Thank you.