I’m interested in what animals are capable of feeling and doing, and what this means for the sort of treatment that we owe them.
I’m currently a Lise Meitner fellow at the Messerli Research Institute in Vienna, running a project entitled ‘Animals and the Concept of Death.’ The purpose of this project is to determine whether any nonhuman species can understand death. The main research focus is a conceptual analysis of what understanding death amounts to and an assessment of the pertinent empirical evidence being gathered in the fields of ethology and comparative psychology. I’m also collaborating with some members of the Comparative Cognition team at the Messerli, attempting to determine the optimal conditions that would favour the emergence of the concept of death in nature, as well as devising experiments that can test the ideas developed in the course of the project. You can read the pilot study of this project here.
In addition to this, I’m involved in an FWF-funded Stand-alone project entitled ‘Morality in Animals: What It Means and Why It Matters.’ This project is led by Judith Benz-Schwarzburg and is ongoing since 2018. In this project, we are investigating the different forms, both positive and negative, that the moral capacities of animals may take. We are also mapping out the ethical implications of animal morality (you can read our pilot study on this topic here).
You can check out what I’ve written until now by having a look at my list of publications. In addition, here’s a list of papers of mine that are currently in preparation or under review:
- A paper on meaning in the lives of animals, with Judith Benz-Schwarzburg.
- A paper on the role of touch in animal morality, with Birte Wrage.
- A paper on animal rationality, with Giacomo Melis.
- A paper on the emergence of the concept of death in nature, with Antonio Osuna-Mascaró.
- A paper on touch and emotional contagion, with Maria Botero.
- A paper on dogs’ perception of humans and its ethical implications, with Judith Benz-Schwarzburg and Ludwig Huber.