Encouraging open debates about research involving animals

Research in life sciences can involve suffering and killing of animals. Whereas the ethical dimension is fundamental in other disciplines (e.g. medicine), it is rarely discussed in biology. This trans-disciplinary event aims to encourage an open debate about the issues connected to research involving animals, by providing perspectives of biologists, philosophers and lawyers.

Invited speakers

Meet our experts

Elisa Aaltola, University of Eastern Finland

Elisa Aaltola is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Turku, Finland. Her research is focussed on the animal rights and ethics. Among her publications are Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture (2012) and Animal Ethics and Philosophy. Questioning the Orthodoxy (2014). She is also an animal liberation activist.

Markus Wild, University of Basel

Markus Wild is a professor of philosophy at the University of Basel. He is a leading researcher in the philosophy of animal minds and ethics. Among his many publications on the topic are a report on cognition and pain in fish for the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (EKAH), an introduction to the philosophy of animals as well as a historic analysis of the anthropological difference. Since 2012, he is a member of the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology. Visit his website for further details.

Antoine Goetschel © Claudia Brijbag

Antoine F. Goetschel, J.D., Attorney-at-Law

Antoine Goetschel is an international animal law and ethics consultant and a visiting lecturer on animal welfare and veterinary legislation at the Zurich Law School. Between 2007 and 2010 he was the world's first animal welfare lawyer in the Canton of Zurich. He has published various books on the animal in the law—most recently Tiere klagen an. In 2005, he was awarded the Margaret and Francis Fleitmann Prize for "tireless and outstanding commitment to contemporary animal-welfare legislation, especially for pioneer work for the animal in the law". Find out more about his work on his website.

Lynne Sneddon

Lynne Sneddon, University of Liverpool

Lynne Sneddon is the Director of Bioveterinary Science at the University of Liverpool and was the first scientist to discover nociceptors that detect painful stimuli in fish in 2002. She has since published several empirical studies on the capacity for pain in fish, which contributed to the improved treatment of fish in a variety of contexts. Using an integrative approach Sneddon addresses questions in animal personality, behavioural ecology, stress and welfare using aquatic models. You can find our more about her on her website.

Hanno Würbel

Hanno Würbel, University of Bern

Hanno Würbel has been a professor of animal welfare at the University of Bern since 2011. In the past, he conducted research on stereotypic behaviour in laboratory mice and more broadly on the relation between developmental plasticity of brain and behaviour and questions of animal welfare. He was awarded the Hessian Animal Welfare Research Award in 2005 and the Felix Wankel Animal Welfare Award in 2009. Next to his many publications in journals he edited a special volume on "Animal Suffering and Welfare" of the Applied Animal Behaviour Science journal. More publications can be found on his website.

Gieri Bolliger

Gieri Bolliger, Dr. iur., Attorney-at-Law

Gieri Bolliger has been the Director of the Swiss Stiftung für das Tier im Recht (TIR) since 2007. TIR was founded in 1995 and aims to be an advocate for non-human animals. As such they aim to improve the relationships between humans and other animals in the law, in ethics and in society in general. Bolliger has co-authored several books on the law and animals and is an international visiting and research scholar at the renowned Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland. Since 2011 he is a member of the committee for animal welfare of the canton of Zurich, Switzerland. You can read more about his activitis on his website.


What's happening when

Thursday, March, 17, 2016
09:00–09:15 Welcome and introduction by Miriam Zemanova
09:15–10:15 Plenary Lecture by Lynne Sneddon
Assessing animal pain and welfare
10:15–10:45 Coffee Break
10:45–12:15 Discussion Session with Hanno Würbel and Markus Wild
How does our own biology shape our attitudes towards animals?
12:15–14:00 Lunch Break
14:00–15:00 Plenary Lecture by Gieri Bolliger
Animal dignity in the Swiss law
15:00–15:30 Coffee Break
15:30–17:00 Discussion Session with Elisa Aaltola and Antoine Goetschel
Not things but not persons either?

Friday, March, 18, 2016
09:00–10:00 Plenary Lecture by Elisa Aaltola
Animal suffering and empathy
10:00–10:30 Coffee Break
10:30–12:00 Discussion Session with Lynne Sneddon and Antoine Goetschel
How can science inform law to better protect animals (including invertebrates)?
12:00–14:00 Lunch Break
14:00–16:00 Round Table Discussion
with Lynne Sneddon, Elisa Aaltola, Antoine Goetschel, Hanno Würbel, Markus Wild, Gieri Bolliger


Where you can find us

This event will be held at the aki house, Alpeneggstrasse 5, 3012 Bern.


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About Us

The people behind the event

Miriam Zemanova

Ing. M.Sc., University of Bern

I am a PhD student at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, working at the interface between population genetics and community ecology. I am also interested in animal and ecological ethics, animal welfare, and humane education.

Kirsten Persson

M.A., M.Sc., University of Basel

I am a PhD student and research assistant at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics at Basel University. In my PhD project I explore perspectives on the moral status of nonhuman animals with experimental philosophy.

Sebastian Leugger

Dr. phil.

As a philosopher and activist, I want there to be more open and rational exchanges between academia, the animal rights movement and society in general. No more passing the buck around in circles! Let's have a constructive discussion instead.

Astrid Kottmann

Dr. des., University of Zürich

My interests are in a philosophical understanding of living beings, including animals. Against this background practical and ethical questions concerning animals come into focus.

Florian Wüstholz

M.A., University of Fribourg

I'm currently working towards a PhD on the nature of self-consciousness in humans and animals. I'm also an animal rights activist and like to play tennis.