Critical Discussion Notes


, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 43-48

First online:

Animal Disenhancement and the Non-Identity Problem: A Response to Thompson

  • Clare PalmerAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Texas A&M University Email author 

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In his paper “The Opposite of Human Enhancement: Nanotechnology and the Blind Chicken problem” (Nanoethics 2:305–316, 2008) Paul Thompson argues that the possibility of “disenhancing” animals in order to improve animal welfare poses a philosophical conundrum. Although many people intuitively think such disenhancement would be morally impermissible, it’s difficult to find good arguments to support such intuitions. In this brief response to Thompson, I accept that there’s a conundrum here. But I argue that if we seriously consider whether creating beings can harm or benefit them, and introduce the non-identity problem to discussions of animal disehancement, the conundrum is even deeper than Thompson suggests.


Paul Thompson Ethics Animals Livestock Animal rights Nanotechnology Biotechnology Non-identity problem