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Portrait von Herwig Grimm

Phone +43 1 25077-2650

Send an e-mail to Herwig Grimm

Herwig Grimm studied philosophy at the Universities of Salzburg, Zurich and Munich, main emphasis on ethics and applied ethics. In 2004 he earned his Master’s degree in Salzburg with a thesis on “Moral Standing of Animals? – Approaching the subject with discourse ethics”. From 2004 to 2011 he was a scientific assistant at the interdisciplinary Institute for Technology, Theology and Natural sciences in Munich. He took his doctoral degree at the Munich School of Philosophy. From 2011 he has been a professor and the head of the unit “Ethics and Human-Animal-Studies” at the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Vienna.

Research interests

  • Applied animal ethics / ethics of farm animal welfare / veterinary ethics
  • Pragmatism in applied ethics
  • Orientation towards practice in ethics
  • Methods of problem-oriented and applied moral philosophy
  • The Internal Morality of the Veterinary Profession: An Empirically Informed Ethical Analysis of Hightech Veterinary Medicine (FWF)
  • The Lacanian Animal - A Psychoanalytical Perspective on Anthropocentrism and the Ambivalences in the Human-Animal Relationship (FWF)
  • Vethics E-Portfolio. Professional Ethics für Amtstierärzte. Erstellung von Lernmodulen und eines online gestützten Weiterbildungsangebotes für Amtstierärzte, praktische Tierärzte und Studierende.

Link to VetDoc

WS 2020:

  • Introduction to Applied Ethics and its Methodologies
  • Einführung in die Tierethik

SS 2020:

  • Ethische Aspekte im wissenschaftlichen Tierversuch
  • Grundzüge des Tierversuchsrechts und ethische Aspekte im wissenschaftlichen Tierversuch
  • Grundlagen der angewandten Ethik
  • Rabbit-Ducks in Ethics - Animal Ethics in the Wake of Wittgenstein


Portrait von Eva Schwarzinger

Phone +43 1 25077-2651

Send an e-mail to Eva Schwarzinger

Eva Schwarzinger has been working as an assistant of the unit “Ethics and Human-Animal-Studies” since June 2015. After completing her studies in Geography (Spatial Research and Regional Planning) at the University of Vienna, she worked at a marketing consulting agency and was further responsible for marketing of seminars and conferences at a training institute.


Send an e-mail to Daniel Springinklee

Since January 2023, Daniel Springinklee has been an employee at the Messerli Research Institute. He supports the management of teaching at the University of Vienna. Also, he successfully completed a BEd in psychology, philosophy and history and currently he is studying in the interdisciplinary master's program in ethics as well as in the diploma program in law at the University of Vienna.

Research Interests

  • Natural and legal persons as well as their relationship to animals
  • Linguistic frames as an understanding of moral concepts
  • Violence as a philosophical problem
  • Political philosophy and its relation to animals

Send an e-mail to Friederike Rosenbaum

Friederike Rosenbaum has been working at the Messerli Research Institute since December 2022. There she supports the organization of research and teaching and is involved in internal projects. She studied law in Münster and Iceland. Friederike Rosenbaum has been studying philosophy in the bachelor's program at the University of Vienna since 2021.

Research Interests

  • environmental and climate ethics
  • animal and environmental law


Portrait von Judith Benz-Schwarzburg

T +43 1 25077-2654

Send an e-mail to Judith Benz-Schwarzburg

Judith Benz-Schwarzburg has been a Senior Researcher at the Messerli Institute since 2011 and leads an FWF-funded research project entitled 'Morality in Animals: What It Means and Why It Matters'.

She studied linguistics, German literature, philosophy and ethics at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany (1999–2005). Her diploma thesis dealt with mental expressions in child language, indicating an early development of theory of mind in 2-4-year-old children. After her graduation Judith Benz-Schwarzburg completed her doctoral thesis as a member of the Research Training Group "Bioethics" at the International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities of the University of Tübingen – an interdisciplinary postgraduate school financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Her thesis dealt with socio-cognitive abilities in animals (namely with culture, language and theory of mind) and their ethical relevance. The thesis was published 2012 within the book series Tierrechte – Menschenpflichten of Harald Fischer Publishing. Since then the book has been awarded two prizes, the German Research Prize (Deutscher Studienpreis, 2nd place) in 2013 and the PhD Award of the University of Tübingen in 2012. A translation into English with Brill was published in Spring 2020:
In addition to her PhD project, Judith Benz-Schwarzburg was a Fellow of the Forum Scientiarum of the University of Tübingen, where she participated in the 2006/2007 study program examining the biological and cultural foundations of human consciousness. In 2010, she gained a certificate from Cambridge University for a course on Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law.

Link to personal website in German

Research Interests

  • Animal ethics and animal cognition (culture, language, theory of mind, morality in animals)
  • Zoo ethics
  • Wildlife tourism
  • Representation of animals in picture books, movies and on social media
  • Animals in Contemporary Art
  • Animal welfare vs. animal rights / the personhood debate
  • Great ape and dolphin conservation


For a full list of publications, please click here.

Since 2011 Judith Benz-Schwarzburg has been teaching regularly at the Vetmeduni Vienna:

  • Practical Course on Ethics and Human-Animal Studies (IMHAI)
  • Current Debates in Applied Animal Ethics (IMHAI)

Additional lecturing at:

  • The University of Tübingen
  • The University of Vienna
  • KTU Linz
  • within the Universitäts Lehrgang `Tiere als Therapie’, Vetmeduni Vienna
  • for the Tierpflegerschule, Vetmeduni Vienna

Judith Benz-Schwarzburg will be on maternity leave from October 2019 to October 2020 (replacement: Birte Wrage, MA).

Portrait von Christian Dürnberger

T +43 664 60257-2657

Send an e-mail to Christian Dürnberger

Christian Dürnberger is university assistant with a focus on “(Digital) Teaching of Veterinary Ethics“ at the Messerli Research Institute, Unit of Ethics and Human-Animal Studies. He studied philosophy and communication sciences at the University of Vienna. After the completion of his studies, he moved to Munich, where he dealt with questions of applied ethics concerning agriculture and the relationship of man and nature at Institute TTN, Ludwig-Maximilians-University and Munich School of Philosophy.


He graduated from the Munich School of Philosophy (Hochschule für Philosophie München). His (German) doctoral thesis was on „Contradiction Nature. Concepts of man-nature-relationship in the controversy on green genetic engineering. Contribution of a descriptive-hermeneutical ethics in order to clarify a social dispute.” His research interests include veterinary ethics, ethical aspects of genome editing, e-learning, and ethics in agriculture.


Research interests

  • Veterinary ethics
  • Ethical questions of the relationship between man and nature
  • Ethics in agriculture
  • Genome Editing
  • E-learning in the field of ethics and veterinary medicine

Link to personal website:

  • Dürnberger, Christian (2020): Am I actually a veterinarian or an economist? Understanding the moral challenges for farm veterinarians in Germany on the basis of a qualitative online survey. Res Vet Sci. 2020; 133:246-250
  • Dürnberger, Christian (2020): I Would like to, but I can't. An Online Survey on the Moral Challenges of German Farm Veterinarians. J Agr Environ Ethic. 2020 33 (3-6) 447-460.
  • Dürnberger, Christian (2019): ‘You should be slaughtered!’ Experiences of criticism/hate speech, motives and strategies among German-speaking livestock farmers using social media. International Journal of Livestock Production, 10(5), 151-165. Open Access:
  • Dürnberger, Christian (2019): Natur als Widerspruch. Die Mensch-Natur-Beziehung in der Kontroverse um die Grüne Gentechnik. TTN-Studien 8. Nomos: Baden-Baden.
  • Dürnberger, Christian (2018): Utopia in the Garden: New Utopian and Dystopian Thinking in Current Debates on Nature, Agriculture and Food. In: Kallhoff, Angela; Di Paola, Marcello; Schörgenhumer, Maria (Editors): Plant Ethics. Concepts and Applications. Routledge, London and New York.

For a full list of publications please click here.

Ethics for students of veterinary medicine at the Vetmeduni Vienna in particular in the context of the following courses:

  • Applied Ethics in Veterinary Medicine
  • Sustainability of future food production systems
  • Animal welfare ethics
  • Ethics for official veterinarians

In addition, he is lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt - Campus Francisco Josephinum for “Ethics in Agriculture“.

A list of his talks can be found here.


T +43 1 25077-2687

Send an e-mail to Svenja Springer

Svenja Springer graduated in Veterinary Medicine from the Vetmeduni Vienna in 2014. After her studies, she has been a scholar and doctoral candidate at the Unit of Ethics and Human-Animal Studies at the Messerli Research Institute in Vienna since September 2014. In her doctoral thesis, Springer investigated attitudes and beliefs of Austrian veterinarians towards euthanasia and explored moral challenges in light of her empirical study. The defence of her thesis took place in November 2018.

From 2017 to 2022, she worked on the research project "The Internal Morality of the Veterinary Profession: An Empirically Informed Ethical Analysis of Modern Small Animal Practice", which was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF | PI: Herwig Grimm), as part of a double-PhD program at the University of Copenhagen and the Vetmeduni, Vienna. This project focused on an empirical investigation of ethical challenges arising from various developments in small animal practice, including the impact of health insurance for companion animals, the use of internet resources in the veterinary context, and professionals ethical decision-making orientations in clinical consultations.

In cooperation the University of Copenhagen and University in Glasgow, Springer is currently working on an international project on pet owners' expectations of modern small animal practice. She has also received research funding to empirically investigate the growing field of hospice and palliative care in small animal practice as part of the "Leaving Life." project. 

Research Interests

  • Empirically informed veterinary ethics
  • Veterinary Ethics
  • (Veterinary) professional ethics
  • The animal in the field of sociology and the sociology of professions
  • Leaving Life: Hospice and Palliative Care in Small Animal practice. This project is funded by the Gut Aiderbichl foundation (Salzburg, Austria).
  • Dog and Cat Owner’s Expectations of Modern Small Animal Practice. This project is funded by the Centre fir Companion Animal Welfare (Copenhagen, Denmark).

For a full list of publications, please click here.

Vetmeduni Vienna, Austria:

Seminar on Animal Welfare Ethics (WS 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22, 2022/23)

Ethics in Equine medicine (WS 2021/22, 2022/23)

Applied Ethics in Veterinary Medicine I (WS 2015/16, 2016/17)

Applied Ethics in Veterinary Medicine II (SS 2016, 2021, 2022)

Applied Ethics in Veterinary Medicine III (WS 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2019/20, 2022/23)

Applied Ethics in Veterinary Medicine IV (SS 2016, 2017, 2021, 2022)

Science in Veterinary Medicine | Empirically Informed Veterinary Ethics (WS 2021/22, SS 2022, WS 2022/23, S 2023)

Workshop “Companion Animal Medicine meets Ethics” | Interdisciplinary Course on Human-Animal Interaction (WS 2021/22, 2022/23)

“Moral challenges in the profession of animal caretakers: Animal caretakers between animal love, owner care and medical responsibility”. (WS 2019/20, 2020/21)

“Seminar on Methodologies in Veterinary Ethics – Responsibility Check” und “(My) Veterinary Ethics”. VetNEST Summer School: Animal Welfare, Veterinary Ethics, Communication and Law. 17–22 Juli 2019.

University Aalborg, Denmark:

Guest lecture on “Veterinary Medicine meets Ethics” 25. Oktober 2018.

University Dubrovnik, Croatia:

„Ethics and Zoonoses“. Workshop at the Summer School on „Zoonoses“. 23–30 April 2017.

University Ljubljana, Slovenia:

Workshop „Introduction to Veterinary Ethics“. Veterinary Faculty, 20 Januar 2017.

UniversitySkopje, North Macedonia:

Workshop „Animal Husbandry and Society: Veterinarians’ responsibilities in a field of tension“. Veterinary Faculty, 2 September 2017.



Portrait von Konstantin Deininger

Send an e-mail to Konstantin Deininger

Konstantin Deininger's research focuses on the concept of the fellow creature, and since 2018 he critically examines it from the perspective of animal ethics and moral philosophy as part of his PhD thesis. In doing so, he examines not only the theoretical implications but also the juridical scope of this concept. He studied Human Resource Education and Management (B.Sc.) at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and Ethics (M.A.) at the Hochschule für Philosophie SJ in Munich. His master thesis on the ethical justification of killing "happy farm animals" was awarded the pro-philosophia master prize for outstanding philosophical theses. Since 2019 he is a scholarship holder of the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung, and since 2020 a visiting scholar at the Messerli Research Institute.

Research interests

  • Animal ethics
  • Animal philosophy
  • Ethics of animal husbandry and veganism
  • Applied ethics

Deininger, K., Aigner, A. & Grimm, H. (2021). Resisting Moral Relativism with Dfficulties of Reality: A Wittgensteinian-Diamondian Approach. Forthcoming.

Deininger, K. (2021). Rezension zu Christine M. Korsgaards Tiere wie wir. Tierstudien(20), forthcoming.

Deininger, K. (2020). Mitgeschöpfe in Cora Diamonds Moralphilosophie. TIERethik, 12. Jahrgang 2020/2(Heft 21), 80–106.

Deininger, K. & Steimer, K. (2019). Für Tiere sprechen: Reichweite und Nachhaltigkeit von Für-Sprache am Beispiel der Pig Vigils. Tierstudien(16), 104-114.

Since summer term 2020 at Hochschule München – University of Applied Sciences:

  • Seminars on the fundamentals of ethics for students of social work (bachelor level)
Portrait von Erich Linder

Erich Linder is currently pursuing his PhD at the University of Vienna and is a guest researcher at the Messerli Research Institute. His work focuses on the consequences of applying Wittgensteinian and pragmatist ideas to animal ethics and moral philosophy

Research Interests:

  • Animal ethics
  • Human-animal studies
  • Wittgensteinian ethics
  • Applied ethics

Linder, E., “Doing and Allowing Harm: The Hidden Assumptions of a Moral Distinction”, Balthazar, 3, 2022, DOI: 10.54103/balthazar/16358

Send an e-mail to Mariessa Long

Mariessa Long has studied the Interdisciplinary Master in Human-Animal Interactions at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, until 2020, focusing on clinical ethics in veterinary medicine. Additionally, she holds a BSc in Molecular Life Science and a MSc in Infection Biology from the University of Lübeck, Germany.

In 2020 she joined the Messerli Research Institute as a member of the interdisciplinary research platform Ethics in Equine Medicine. In collaboration with the University Equine Hospital, Vienna, and Gut Aiderbichl, an international animal sanctuary association with estates in multiple European countries, she works on an interdisciplinary project concerned with criteria and models for treatment decision-making in the therapy of old and/or chronically ill horses (PIs: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Herwig Grimm, Univ.-Prof. Florien Jenner Dipl.ACVS Dipl.ECVS). Questions to be addressed within this project are, among others, the concept of quality of life for horses, how stakeholders such as veterinarians, horse owners and caregivers may understand a horse’s quality of life differently and how these different perspectives can be incorporated into a structured decision-making process for complex cases.

Research Interests

  • Veterinary Ethics
  • Clinical Ethics Support Services
  • Ethical Decision-Making
  • Quality of Life of Horses
  • Animal Ethics

Responsibilities for old and chronically ill horses. Therapy-related decisions: Criteria and models for decision-making (PIs: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Herwig Grimm, Univ.-Prof. Florien Jenner Dipl.ACVS Dipl.ECVS; Project is part of the interdisciplinary research platform Ethics in Equine Medicine)