The Non-Identity Problem
Unhealthy Child: You are trying to conceive a child. You go to the doctors. All is good, but you
are on a medication that will most likely interfere with the child’s development. But, the doctor
tells you good news. If you switch medications, you can have a normal child if you wait a month.
Instead, the mother goes home and conceives the baby instead of waiting one month to conceive.
The baby is born with the abnormalities and dies before the age 40. Is this permissible?
- Most people believe this is morally wrong because it harms her child.
- But, conceiving now rather than waiting is morally correct because a month later,
there would have been a different sperm and egg. The child would not have been
better off because he would not have existed a month later. 40 good years of life
seems to be better than no life at all. A different child would exist. Therefore, it
seems like the child was benefited with life.
Breeding Blind Hens
- We breed a blind hen, Henrietta. She then exists, but is blind.
- Breeding sighted hens instead because Henrietta is “harmed.”
- Henrietta then would not exist. It seems that breeding blind chickens does
not make the blind chicken any worse off because if you only breed
sighted chickens, Henrietta would never exist at all. This doesn’t seem
Harm: To make someone worse off than they otherwise would have been.
Individual Utility Principle: When you have 2 options, each of which brings into existence a
different individual, morally you should choose the option that brings into existence the
individual that will have a better life.
- This leads you to accept the Utilitarian view.
Cultured Meat/Lab-Grown Meat
1. “Fake Meat,” “Synthetic Meat”
a. This is not fake meat. Molecularly and structurally this will be the same as animal
tissue. This is made from the actual tissue of animals, just grown