Year in Review: 2016

In the last year, we have not only established ourselves as political players in Switzerland, but also hosted an international conference, started to work in other countries, and have expanded our content. As we come to the end of the year, we are evaluating the comparative success of our different activities and discussing fundamental strategic […]

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Animal advocates should focus on antispeciesism, not veganism

The following article was written by guest blogger Magnus Vinding. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Sentience Politics. How can we help nonhuman animals as much as possible? A good answer to this question could spare billions from suffering and death, while a bad one could condemn as […]

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Expanding our moral circle to reduce suffering in the far future

Discussions about the far future often center on two possibilities: humanity going extinct or having our potential permanently curtailed, or humanity building a flourishing, space-faring mega-civilization. These discussions usually present humanity’s extinction or permanent decline as the worst possible outcome, and some argue that minimizing these existential risks (“x-risks”) is the most important thing we […]

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Trump Wins, and the World Loses

As a think tank committed to politics for all sentient beings, we at Sentience Politics are disheartened by the outcome of America’s election last night. The next US President will be an exceptionally prejudicial, anti-intellectual, and self-interested man, and he will have the support of a Republican majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. We […]

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Dear Science: Can we help wild animals?

In a recent Washington Post article titled, “Dear Science: If an animal is lost or injured, why shouldn’t I help it?”, we see the unquestioned refrain that we should let nature take its course, leaving someone who is suffering to their fate. The authors of the Washington Post article begin with a reasonable approach, saying […]

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Why we work on fundamental rights for primates

Sentience Politics selects and prioritizes campaigns based on their potential impact, i.e. the number of individuals affected. One of our ongoing campaigns concerns fundamental rights for primates, which may seem ineffective at first glance. After all, the number of non-human primates is almost negligible compared to the number of animals suffering on factory farms – so […]

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How much suffering is necessary? The sad state of UK animal law

Summary: Animal law in the UK purports to protect animals from ‘unnecessary suffering’. It does no such thing. In reality, the test for whether a cruel practice is legal is whether it is an industry-wide accepted norm. As well as traditional animal advocacy focussing on dietary and individual change, we should do three things. First, […]

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Our plans for the future

This post gives a brief outlook on our future plans and the reasoning behind them. This year witnessed us moving our headquarters from our country of origin, Switzerland, to Germany. Now based in Berlin, one of Europe’s largest cultural and political centres, we have a solid platform from which to launch our future campaigns. We […]

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Billions betrayed by Brexit – and they didn’t even get to vote

In a senseless act of self-sabotage, Britain has voted to leave the European Union. It now faces economic turmoil, social instability, and years of isolationism. But Brexit will impact more than just the 70 millions human animals living in the United Kingdom. It is also a devastating blow for the approximately 1 billion non-human animals […]

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Summer 2016 Job Openings

When time and money are limited, how can we best use our resources to reduce as much suffering as possible? Sentience Politics uses rationality and evidence in order to identify and implement effective strategies to alleviate suffering. We advocate for a society in which the interests of all sentient beings will be given moral consideration, […]

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Exploration vs. Exploitation of Strategies in the Animal Rights Movement

The central premise of effective altruism is that we should use our limited resources in order to achieve the greatest altruistic impact possible. The question remains, what is the best way to actually put this into practice? We might propose the following two-step procedure. First, we should use empirical evidence and our best scientific theories […]

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Going Veggie Would Save Trillions of Lives, Not Millions

A recent study conducted at the University of Oxford concluded that adopting a vegetarian diet would save 5-8 million lives by 2050, amounting to a 6-10% drop in global mortality. The study joins a growing body of quality research suggesting that a global reduction in meat consumption can help prevent major problems in the near […]

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Announcing the Sentience Conference

How can we use our limited resources in order to help as many sentient beings as possible? The Sentience Conference systematically addresses this important issue. The event will bring together international experts from the fields of science, activism, and politics in order to create new, innovative approaches to advocate for sentient beings, using the philosophy […]

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Sentience Research Essay Prize 2016

Sentience Politics is currently accepting submissions for the first Sentience Essay Prize on “effective strategies to reduce the suffering of all sentient beings.” The winner will be awarded $2,000. Effective altruism asks us to consider the best ways to reduce as much suffering as possible when our resources – time and money – are limited. […]

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Demandingness

Why no goal can ever be too demanding A common objection to utilitarian goals is that the philosophy is too demanding. For instance, it might seem that we should donate all our money to those in need or devote every waking hour toward helping others. This claim is based on a misunderstanding of human willpower […]

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Bayes’ Theorem

What is it and what is it good for? Introduction Post last updated: 30.06.2015. Thanks to EP and others for pointing out that the negation signs were not always displayed properly in the formulae. If some terrible catastrophe destroyed human civilization and humanity lost all scientific knowledge it ever collected – which single piece of […]

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Effective Animal Charities: How They Help Solve Many Global Problems at Once

Our resources are limited. Efforts aimed at improving the world therefore necessitate cause selection and prioritisation: Which causes am I going to support with my resources? Often people select their causes according to what happens to be closest to their heart or what’s immediately salient. This results in non-conventional but potentially extremely important causes often […]

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Means and Ends

Which things do we value for their own sake? Ends and Means What are your goals in life, what is it that you care about? When people are asked what they value, answers will include things like happiness, freedom, fairness, friendship, biodiversity, truth, pizza, equality, medicine, loyalty, and many other things. In theory, it may […]

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Talk: Effective altruism for all sentient beings

Sentience Politics co-founder Adriano Mannino recently gave a talk on “Effective altruism for all sentient beings: How can we save the most individuals with our limited resources?” at Basel University’s Institute for Biomedical Ethics: Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that proposes to use our limited resources (personal skill, time, money) so as […]

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Why Animal Rights Should Be a Political Priority

A common objection not to what may be the strongest argument for veganism itself, but to its practical importance and relevance, says that even if we accept it, we surely (should) have other ethico-political priorities: Since our resources are limited, ignoring the interests of non-human animals is justified in practice, although it’s true that eating […]

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The Strongest Argument For Veganism

Strong arguments derive their (surprising, counter-intuitive and far-reaching) conclusions from modest premises that everybody accepts. Here’s one such premise: (1) We shouldn’t be cruel to animals, i.e. we shouldn’t harm animals unnecessarily. This principle is common sense, and it’s also contained in our animal protection laws, which testifies to its being generally accepted. Animals shouldn’t […]

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Expected Utility

What is it and why should I maximize it? It’s in the interest of agents to achieve their own goals as well as possible. When we implement this in our behavior, we are acting rationally. But what does this mean in an applied setting, acting so as to best achieve our goals? When we are […]

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Talk: Should we intervene in nature to help wild animals?

It is often presumed that the well-being of wild animal individuals should be irrelevant to our ethico-political decision-making. Arguments for this conclusion include the views that life in the wild is idyllic; that “nature knows best” and we can only hubristically mess up; that eco-systems (and species) have intrinsic value and shouldn’t be modified; that […]

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But they are just animals, not humans!

Introduction “They are just animals, not humans!” In discussions about granting more rights to animals, or using resources to help animals, objections like this one are unfortunately very common. While such a statement may – despite the lack of argumentative substance – seem intuitively appealing, it should immediately become apparent that it is problematic to […]

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Basic Decision Theory

How to get better at making decisions Introduction Each day every one of us faces decision problems. Some are as inconsequential as choosing a sweater in a store, others are as intimidating as choosing the right career path. Many of these decision problems are not solved consciously – we simply choose an option intuitively, without […]

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Effective donation: Why you can save many more animals with your wallet than with your plate

Contents The blind spot of consumer ethics Donating well is (much) more important than consuming well Effective vs. ineffective donation Monthly budget and career choice: “Earning to Give” “Setting a good example”: Towards a new culture of donation Our intuitive thinking is strongly influenced by consumer ethics: We think that acting responsibly according to human and […]

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