Persons as Moral Animals  

Currently, I am working on a book manuscript that takes the comparison between moral capacities  of persons and the “morality” of animals seriously. The book Der Mensch – das moralische Tier is under contract with Suhrkamp and will be published in 2022.

Content: In ethics, many authors argue that moral capacities are “natural” by origin. Evolutionary theories explain why and how human morality evolved. Moreover, animals appear to have some rudimentary moral capacities: They have empathy, they realize pro-social behavior, and they care about each other.
The book explores the new naturalism in ethics thoroughly. Part one presents a recollection of three narratives on the human-animal comparison in ethics. Part two investigates the metaethical premises of those accounts. It explores some major shortfalls, but also tries to gives insights in the debates on evolutionary premises in ethics and in “animalism”. Part three presents an alternative view: Even though persons are animals, morality is itself the distinguishing feature of persons. However, morality is not an inborn capacity, but needs to be developed, trained and nourished. The book ends with proposals about favourable conditions for the full-fleshed development of moral capacities.

Scope: A theory about personal moral capacities that takes the natural origins of humankind seriously.

Publication: Der Mensch – das moralische Tier, Berlin: Suhrkamp Wissenschaft (2022)

Climate Ethics

My recent book in climate ethics was published with Routledge in May 2021: Climate Justice and Collective Action.

It argues that concepts of joint agency are needed in oder to overcome the “tragedy of the commons” of the atmosphere as a shared good. Against the background of theories of joint action, this book explores ways to integrate concepts of climate justice and principles of climate fairness into a comprehensive account of concerted climate action. The first half of the book is about that model of climate cooperation. The second part is about climate duties. The main argument is that climate cooperation in favor of climate goals is obligatory, yet the actors bearing duties need to be distinguished thoroughly (single, but not unilateral actors; various types of group actors; structured collectives). In sum, this book intends to present a new model of climate cooperation.


Contributions in Radio and Television on Climate Justice and Climate Ethics (see News).

Related publications:

Climate Justice and Climate Conflicts as a Security Policy Challenge in the 21st Century. In: Ethics and Armed Forces. Controversies in Peace Ethics & Security Policy, 2021-1 (2021): 26-31. With T. Schulte-Umberg. Available online here.

Klimagerechtigkeit und Klimakonflikte als sicherheitspolitische Herausforderung des 21. Jahrhunderts. In: Ethik und Militär: Kontroversen in Militärethik & Sicherheitspolitik. 2021-1 (2021): 28-33. With T. Schulte-Umberg. Available online here.

Kosmopolitismus und menschliche Natur: Forderungen einer Ethik für Erdlinge, in: Jahrbuch praktische Philosophie in globaler Perspektive Nr. 2, München: Verlag Karl Alber 2018, pp.  241-262

Angela Kallhoff (Hg.), Klimagerechtigkeit und Klimaethik (= Wiener Reihe. Themen der Philosophie Bd. 18), Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter 2015

Klimakooperation: Kollektives Handeln für ein öffentliches Gut, in: Angela Kallhoff (Hg.), Klimagerechtigkeit und Klimaethik, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter 2015, S. 143-168

Research Platform “Nano-Norms-Nature,” 2015-2019:

This research platform brings together scientists from jurisprudence, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences in order to develop a normative assessment of the nano-nature interface. In particular, the researchers explore normative guidelines that are applicable to future developments in nano-sciences. This includes the debate about nano-partictles being released into nature, approaches to planetary medicine that include nano-technologies, and the enhancement of natural beings. The overall goal is the exploration of a set of principles that contribute to regulatory frameworks and to norms that institutions subscribe to in developing nano-materials.

Scope: Research at the interface of geo-physics, environmental ethics and law.

The Research Platform is supported by the University of Vienna (330 000 Euros).

Publication: Nano Technology: Regulation and Public Discourse (= Philosophy, Technology and Society): Iris Eisenberger, Angela Kallhoff, Claudia Schwarz-Plaschg (eds.), Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publ. 2019

Workshop · Envisioning the Future: Scenarios as Theoretical Tools. Friday, May 24, 2019

Conferences, Workshops in 2016 (twice), 2017 and 2019.

Project Report Nano-Norms-Nature — click here for PDF

Moralities of Warfare, since 2014

This project brings together historians of the church, historians and philosophers in order to explore current ethical perpectives on war. In the tradition of Just War Theory, “just causes” are tied to a perspective on war that interprets it as a collective event, usually among nation states. Yet, this perspective overlooks the role of soldiers and combatants. In particular, it does not address the perspective of soldiers and their right to fight a war. This perspective if of major importance in discussing war ethics.

Scope: Just war theory, approaches to the commitment of soldiers, war ethics

In 2014, 2016, and 2019: Conferences on The Committed Soldier at the University of Vienna


The Soldier and the Morality of Warfare. New Perspectives in War Theory. In: (ed.) Franziska Quabeck, Just War Theory in Literature. Facts & Fictions, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming, with Thomas Schulte-Umberg.

Moralities of Warfare and Religion. Special Issue of the Interdiscipoinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society (J-RaT) Vol. 6, 2018, ed. with Thomas Schulte-Umberg

The Soldier and the Morality of Warfare. New Perspectives in War Theory. In: Franziska Quabeck (ed.), Just War Theory in Literature. Facts & Fictions, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming, with Thomas Schulte-Umberg.

Neues zur Theorie des Gerechten Krieges: Die Wende zum Soldaten und Fragen der Kriegsmoral. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie , 2017/4, pp. 762-780, with Thomas Schulte-Umberg

The Committed Soldier: Religion as a Necessary Supplement to a Moral Theory of Warfare. In: Politics, Religion & Ideology 16:4, 434-448, with Thomas Schulte-Umberg.

New Directions in Plant Ethics, 2014-2019:

This project addresses the life of plants in the context of ethics. Its research focus investigates values in growing plants and in cultivating plants, the ethics of gardening, meta-ethical concepts in plant ethics (flourishing, moral status, moral significance of plants) and applications of plant ethics.

Scope: Moral status of plants, ethics of plant cultivation

International Conference · Greentopia: Ideas, Concepts and Institutional Proposals. October 11 – 12, 2019

Conference Co-organization EurSafe Congress 2018 · The 14th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. Workshop on “New Directions in Plant Ethics”

Conferences and Workshops on Plant Ethics in 2016 (twice) and 2017.

Lecture Series on Plant Ethics in 2015.

The project received support from the FWF (330 000 Euros).


Plant Ethics – Concepts and Applications. With Marcello Di Paola and Maria Schörgenhumer. Oxford: Routledge, 2018

The Virtues of Gardening: A Relational Account of Environmental Virtues. In: Environmental Ethics 39/2, 2017, pp. 193-210, with Maria Schörgenhumer

Plants in Ethics: Why Flourishing Deserves Moral Respect. In: Environmental Values 23, 2014: 685-700. DOI: 10.3197/096327114X13947900181518

Prinzipien der Pflanzenethik. Die Bewertung pflanzlichen Lebens in Biologie und Philosophie. Frankfurt/New York: Campus, 2002.

Das Terminatorgen aus pflanzenethischer Perspektive. In: Journal für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit, 2009, DOI: 10.1007/s00003-009-0312-9

Werte und Naturgegenstände. In: Chr. Halbig, A. Kallhoff, A. Vieth (Hg.): Ethik und die Möglichkeit einer guten Welt. Eine Kontroverse um die „Konkrete Ethik“ (= Forschungsbeiträge des Instituts für Wissenschaft und Ethik). Berlin: De Gruyter 2008, 93-101

Normative Prinzipien der Pflanzenethik. In: V. Drell und C. Thies (Hg.): Agro-Gentechnik. Zum Für und Wider einer neuen landwirtschaftlichen Technologie. Münster: LIT-Verlag 2008, 15-24

Der moralische Status von Pflanzen. In: Carl Frierich Gethmann, Susanne Hieckel (Hg.): Materialien der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: Materialien zur interdisziplinären Arbeitsgruppe: „Zukunftsorientierte Nutzung ländlicher Räume – LandInnovation“. Dezember 2007, Materialien Nr. 16, 31-44

Pflanzenethik: Ein Begründungsansatz. In: Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik Bd. 12, 2007, 79-96

Public Goods

Whereas public goods are an important category in economics, this category has been neglected in political philosophy. This project explores the meaning of public good in the context of approaches to “the public,” to democracy and to citizenship. It argues that societies need public goods in order to support the public forum and to enhance the conditions of social justice.

Recently, public goods have been of particular interest in the context of the ethics of nature. Therefore, I have also started to explore the category of a “public good” and its ethical implication in the context of the philosophy of nature and climate ethics.


Why societies need public goods. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2014) vol. 17, issue 6,  635-651. DOI:10.1080/13698230.2014.904539

Addressing the commons: normative approaches to common pool resource. In:  Climate change and sustainable development. Ethical perspectives on land use and food production. Ed. Thomas Potthast and Simon Meisch. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers 2012, 63-68

Why Democracy Needs Public Goods. Lanham, MD, et al.: Lexington Books, a Division of Rowman&Littlefield Publishers, 2011.

Die Rechtfertigung öffentlicher Güter mit Argumenten des Vorteilstausches. In: Ethica. Wissenschaft und Verantwortung 16/4 (2008), 315-332

Public Goods and Religion: A Complicated Partnership. In: Criterion 44/2 (2005), 12-17

Ethical Naturalism

The question of how nature and morality relate to each other is as old as philosophy. After having explored recent approaches on Aristotelian ethical naturalism, that differs significantly from all current appraoches to ethical naturalism, I now explore the current debate on ethical naturalism with a distinct focus. I am interested in how hypotheses of the “animality” of persons plays out in the debate on ethical naturalism.


Ethischer Naturalismus nach Aristoteles. Paderborn: mentis, 2010.

Ethischer Naturalismus nach Aristoteles – das umstrittene Verhältnis zwischen menschlicher Natur und gutem Leben. In: Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 63/4 (2009), 581-596