DFG-project animal ethics in area of tension of Utopia and responsibility

© Michal Schmidt

How do we want to live with animals? How would a good human-animal-relation look like? How do we imagine it in the best way possible?

Is it useful to design an ethic Utopia or does it overwhelm us and only produces defense reactions?

What can theological ethics tell us about this? 

Is it meant to design Utopian concepts or to focus with responsibility on reality? Or both?

  • The project


    Utopia and responsibility. Contributions about basic questions; Protestant ethics using the example of animal ethics

    Starting point

    Animal ethics became an especially socially and scientifically important topic during last years. This explains why also theological ethics focuses on this topic in a more detailed manner. Many theologists follow the position of following an approach that follows reality appropriate ethics and responsibility ethics. They clearly differentiate themselves from other claims for overcoming speciesism and anthropocentrism, as well as from the idea of animal rights. This differentiation is based on the belief that a Utopia is fundamentally not suitable for Protestant ethics. Here, responsibility becomes a counter term to Utopia.

    Concerns and goals

    This research project starts in the tension field of Utopia and responsibility. It follows the question of the significance of Utopia in ethics in general, as well as in animal ethics.

    On a fundamental level, it deals with reasons for Utopian scepsis, as well as arguments for positive meanings of Utopia and asks, how to combine these. The hypothesis is that Utopias are useful and necessary because they open up new possibilities and encourage behaviors towards more equality. However, this is only possible, if they are understood in a specific way and can be differentiated against other concepts.

    Research also focuses on the role of Utopia in animal ethics’ discourse of theology. First, questions about the significance of Utopias are asked and how they can be integrated in theological ethics. Further, theological and non-theological imaginations about human-animal-Utopia are examined as part of plausible theological animal ethics (e.g. solidarity with non-human livings or political interest representations, etc.).

    The goal of this project is to find basics that are coordinated in a theological animal ethic that stands between Utopia and responsibility.

    For a more detailed project description, please click here.

  • About the person

    Cornelia Mügge is Protestant theologist and philosopher. She studied in Leipzig, Berlin and Lausanne (CH), made her PhD at the Max-Weber-Kolleg in Erfurt and worked as research staff in Catholic theology in Fribourg (CH) and Protestant theology in Dresden. Apart from her focus on Utopia and theological animal ethics, she did research concerning human rights, feminist ethics and gender studies, as well as secularism theories.

    Further information

  • Current news from the project

    Network meeting "Utopia and Theology", 22./23.3.2023, Münster (only available in German)

    Interview with chrismon. Das evangelische Magazin from 14.3.2023 (only available in German)

    Article from 24th November 2022 at feinschwarz.net (only available in German)

  • Other Links

    Network Transcending Species Transforming Religion (TSTR)