Philosophy Discussion Group – Consent – Tuesday 19th

The Socratic Society’s Philosophy Discussion Group meets again on Tuesday, May 19th in Morven Brown 205 (note new location) from 1pm until 3pm. Anyone with an interest in the topic is welcome, and you can come and go at any time; you don’t need to be there for the whole two hours. The discussion group is very informal.

The topic is: “Consent”

Consent is fundamental to many of our interactions with other people. It is most controversial in relation to sexual activity but is also an element of many other activities, such as medical treatment, scientific research, contact sports, and even seemingly innocuous acts such as getting a tattoo or borrowing a car.
Next week the discussion group will be considering the concept of consent, attempting to answer such questions as:

1) How do we know when consent is present?
2) Does consent need to be active or is passive/implied consent good enough? In other words, does the participant need to indicate through words or actions that he or she consents, or is the absence of refusal or protest enough?
3) Can consent be given in advance, or does consent only apply to what is happening now? Can consent be revoked?
4) Is there a responsibility to obtain consent before a particular act? In other words, does responsibility rest only with the person giving consent, or does the person receiving consent have an obligation to act to obtain confirmation that consent is present?

Anyone (not just discussion group participants) is welcome to post answers to one or more of these questions in the comments below.


2 responses to “Philosophy Discussion Group – Consent – Tuesday 19th

  1. I will only touch on the issue of consent in sex – an issue which is pretty important to me.

    Verbal consent is becoming more & more necessary to sexual practices among many groups, & it is only my hope that this trend continues.

    -Verbal consent needs to be acquired BEFORE the sexual act (whatever it may be) is performed. This seems fairly obvious to me.

    -The person receiving consent has an obligation to confirm it – in many cases a non-consenting person may be too shy, scared, or in some other kind of altered mindstate (not only drug-induced) to verbally express when they are not consenting. Lack of non-consent does not imply consent, and it is not the person giving consent’s fault in any way.

    -Consent is not a one-off agreement – a person may be comfortable with a certain action at one point but not in another (for example, engaging in consensual three-way or group sex). Therefore explicit verbal consent needs to be given each & every time.

    -This notion should also apply to those in long-lasting or trusting relationships. However once a trusting relationship has been established, it is a very viable practice to mutually agree on alternative communications that indicate consent – such as touching the other person’s shoulder, as a simple example. This is especially effective when one person revokes their consent and does not wish to hurt the other person.

    -Some acts can be consented to in advance, but only if it is explicitly stated that these acts will always be permitted. ‘You can hold my hand anytime you like’, for example. A one-off consent does not imply advanced consent to a future act of similar nature, as stated above.

    That’s all for now.
    I’m sure you all talked about all of this in the discussion group anyways.

  2. oh, PS & most importantly –


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