, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 225–236 | Cite as

Animal Disenhancement in Moral Context

  • Korinn N. Murphy
  • William P. Kabasenche
Original Paper


To mitigate animal suffering under industrial farming conditions, biotechnology companies are pursuing the development of genetically disenhanced animals. Recent advances in gene editing biotechnology have brought this to reality. In one of the first discussions of the ethics of disenhancement, Thompson argued that it is hard to find compelling reasons to oppose it. We offer an argument against disenhancement that draws upon parallels with human disenhancement, ecofeminism’s concern with the “logic of domination,” and a relational ethic that seeks to preserve a meaningful relationship between farmers and their animals. In addition, we respond to two arguments in favor of animal disenhancement—one grounded in the non-identity problem and one that argues disenhancement is the best we can do to protect animal well-being right now. We argue that animal disenhancement does not address the fundamental issue of oppression of animals in the context of contemporary animal agriculture. Therefore, we conclude that animal disenhancement is not nearly as valuable as it might appear initially.


Disenhancement Animal rights Animal ethics Ecofeminism Relational ethics Non-identity problem 



We are grateful for the constructive comments of two anonymous reviewers for this journal. We believe our paper is better as a result of our attempts to respond to their helpful feedback.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Molecular BiosciencesWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.NIH Protein Biotechnology Training ProgramWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  3. 3.School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, College of Arts and SciencesWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  4. 4.Elson S. Floyd College of MedicineWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  5. 5.Center for Reproductive BiologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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