Conference on „Animal Minds & Animal Ethics: Across Species, Across Disciplines“

Monday, September 23, 2019, starting at 9.30 am
Vetmeduni Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna

The social lives of animals are studied by a range of different disciplines. Comparative psychologists and biologists research the cognitive and emotional mechanisms involved in different social interactions. Animal welfare scientists study the impact of social interactions and their disruption on the well-being of animals. Philosophers of animal minds problematize these interactions at a conceptual level, asking, for instance, what it means for a relationship to be meaningful to an animal. Animal ethicists attempt to illuminate what humans owe to animals who are social beings. These different perspectives on animal sociality have the potential to impact how scholars of other fields think about this topic, but these voices are often not heard beyond one’s discipline. This interdisciplinary conference aims to remedy this by bringing together scholars to think about animal minds and animal ethics – across species and across disciplines.

Confirmed Speakers: 

Prof. Kristin Andrews from York University, Toronto. She is one of the leading philosophers of animal minds and has worked with great apes in the field and with dolphins in captivity. She co-authored the Philosopher’s Brief for chimpanzee rights and specializes in normativity and social cognition in nonhuman primates.

Maria Botero, PhD from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas. She is a philosopher who has worked with great apes in the field, with a research focus on the role of touch in primate social cognition.

Prof. Jean-Loup Rault from Vetmeduni Vienna. He is an animal welfare scientist with a research focus on social behavior, applied neuroscience, and positive welfare in farm animals.

Prof. Susanne Waiblinger from Vetmeduni Vienna. She is an animal welfare scientist who specializes in the human-animal relationship, the non-invasive evaluation of wellbeing, and ruminants.

Dr. Zsófia Virányi from Vetmeduni Vienna. She is a biologist who works on comparative cognition, studying social learning, theory of mind, and cooperative interactions in animals, predominantly in dogs and wolves.

Dr. Judith Benz-Schwarzburg from Vetmeduni Vienna. She currently leads a research project on animal morality and works at the intersection of animal cognition and animal ethics.

Dr. Susana Monsó from Vetmeduni Vienna. She has a background in philosophy of animal minds and works within the morality project as well as on her own Lise Meitner project on the concept of death in animals.

Birte Wrage, MA from Vetmeduni Vienna. They work on a PhD project investigating the role of touch in animals’ social interactions as part of the animal morality project.


Participation is free, but if you plan to attend please register by sending an e-mail to:

This conference is funded by the FWF project “Morality in animals: what it means and why it matters” (P31466-G32)