JOUR FIXE with Herwig Grimm
The Art of Making it Better: Dewey’s Meliorism in Animal Ethics
THE ART OF MAKING IT BETTER: DEWEY’S MELIORISM IN ANIMAL ETHICS
One of John Dewey’s guiding ideas was to reconstruct philosophy in order to solve practical problems. He considered the methodology of empirical sciences as the most promising approach to guide this reconstruction. In his perspective, the pattern of empirical inquiry is not only an appropriate methodology in empirical sciences but also in the humanities and especially in ethics. However, he did not develop this particular methodology for ethical problem solving. Against the background of John Dewey’s work Logic: The Theory of Inquiry a melioristic methodology for ethical problem solving will be presented. It takes its starting point at the practical level of a problematic situation, followed by four steps of effective problem solving. The resulting melioristic approach supports the transformation of abstract ethical principles into practical contexts of farm animal husbandry while taking the responsible actor’s practical limitations into account.
Herwig Grimm (*1978 in Amstetten, Austria) is a trained farmer and philosopher. He specialized in moral philosophy and is interested in methodological questions in practice-oriented ethics, agricultural ethics, and animal ethics. After his agricultural training he spent a few years on farms in the UK, Austria and Germany. During this time he entered various fields of ethical questions like the ethics of human-animal relation on farms, economic constraints and moral responsibility, genetically modified crop etc. Such questions brought him to study philosophy and applied ethics in Salzburg, Zurich and Munich. Throughout his studies he focused on the conflict of practical constraints and moral ideals and methods to bring ethics into practice. He received his doctor’s degree in philosophy from the Munich School of Philosophy. After seven years at the Institute Technik-Theologie-Naturwissenschaften at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich he moved back to Austria. Since 2011 he holds the chair for Ethics and Human-Animal Studies at the Messerli Research Institute (University of Veterinary Medicine and University Vienna).