Jun 2, 2021
57: "We don't need a god - we can do it ourselves" - Philosopher Richard Brown - Sentientist Conversation
Play • 1 hr 21 min

Richard ( &  is a philosopher at CUNY. His work is focused on the philosophy of mind, consciousness studies & the foundations of cognitive science. He also has interests & projects in the philosophy of language, metaethics, philosophy of physics, logic, the philosophy of logic and the history of philosophy.

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." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube.

We discuss:

0:00 Welcome

1:10 Richard's Intro: A carbon-based philosopher.

2:08 What's real?

- Attending Christian and other religious venues. Mother converting to being a Jehovah's Witness

- "I found it incredible - in the sense of not possible to believe"

- "Worship me or die"

- Theodicy & the problem of evil

- Refusing baptism at the age of 14. "If you live in my house you're going to do this."

- Running away, stealing a motorcycle, being arrested & spending 4 years at juvenile hall

- Scholarship & philosophy

- Atheistic re: formal religions: "I find the stuff in all the holy texts to be obviously man made", but agnostic re: theism

- What counts as evidence? Fine tuning, arguments from design?

- Simulation hypothesis. Maybe our creator is a teenager in the next universe up or hyper-dimensional mice

- God as a genocidal maniac

- Religious homophobia

- Naturalistic ethics based on reason (vs. authority/fear/obedience)

- "It's better to do the naturalistic thing because you have to ultimately do it anyway"

- Islam means "peace through submission"

- "It's undignified to demand worship"

18:29 What matters morally?

- "I always thought it was obvious that there are things that matter morally"

- Being raised vegetarian, then going vegan

- The optimistic futurism of the 1950's

- JW pamphlets depicting a transhumanist utopia where we've engineered the predators to eat Impossible Burgers

- "I was raised to see animals as companions & friends & family members"

- Kant, universalism, freedom & autonomy

- Theirs is valuable because mine is valuable

- "There's something rational about morality"

- "I couldn't make sense of sociopaths"

- Hume's is/ought

- A flaw in traditional Kantian ethics is that "only 'rational creatures' get into the club". Christine Korsgaard corrects

- Ethical pluralism & moral considerability

32:42 Sentience, consciousness and p-zombies

- Panpsychism as a popular alternative to the impasse between physicalism & dualism

- Can electrons experience/suffer? Are they pieces of consciousness? If so, surely they're bored?

- Epiphenomenalism

- We often respond before we are conscious

- "The mind is the brain"

- Is panpsychism any more outlandish than the concept of fields in physics?

... And much more. See YouTube and

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings."

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