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CANCELLED CEPPA Talk (in person) – Victor Tadros (University of Warwick)

May 9 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Title: Consent, Intent, and Communication

What is consent? I will assume that it is a normative power – a power to alter rights and duties directly. If this is right, how is consent exercised? I will argue that consent is exercised through the execution of intentions to alter practical reasoning. Successful communication is not needed for valid consent. Even an attempt to communicate is not needed (though it is the central way of consenting). What is needed is an intention that the consentee understands that their practical reasoning is altered – their understanding that they are permitted to do what the consenter consents to. More precisely, I defend:

Permissive Intentions: X consents to Y aing where they execute their intention permit Y to a by intending that Y understands that X has permitted Y to a.

This View contrasts with familiar alternative views in four ways.

First, consent is concerned with altering the consentee’s practical reasoning, and not just with altering the normative status of the consentee’s conduct. So, a person cannot give consent where they believe that altering the consentee’s practical reasoning is impossible, even where they wish the normative status of the target’s conduct to be altered. This contrasts with pure mentalist views that consent can be given just by having a mental state or performing a mental action without attempting to alter the consentee’s practical reasoning. Second, consent can be given without external behaviour that is sufficient to give the consentee grounds to conclude that the consenter has permissive intentions. Consenters can try but fail to give others evidence of their intentions. This contrasts with one kind of externalist view that external evidence or signs of permissive intentions are necessary for consent. Third, consent is given only if the consenter intends to permit the consentee’s conduct. This contrasts with another kind of externalist view that external evidence or signs of permissive intentions are sufficient for consent. Fourth, consenters necessarily intend to permit consentees’ conduct. It is insufficient for consent that a person intends the recipient of their communication to believe that they intend to permit them to act. A person can pretend to consent by communicating that they intend to permit an act without actually intending to permit it. And sometimes this might result in the consenter forfeiting a right against the consentee acting. But consent is absent. This contrasts with the view that intending to communicate that one has permissive intentions is sufficient for consent whether or not the consenter has these intentions.

Location: Edgecliffe G03


May 9
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Theron Pummer


Edgecliffe 104