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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 33, Issue 2, Fall 2019

Stephen Kershnar
Pages 305-318

The Paradox of Consent

If consent is valid (that is, morally transformative), then in every case it is either valid or invalid. This is because of the notion that (when valid) consent eliminates a right and a person either has or lacks a right against another. A parallel problem to the paradox of symmetrical attackers applies to consent. That is, there is a case in which two people neither consent nor do not consent to one another. As a practical matter, attorneys, judges, legislators, physicians, and sex partners should not treat consent as morally significant, except perhaps as defeasible evidence of what makes another person’s life go better. They might still want to follow the law because there is likely a duty to follow law even when its purported justification is mistaken.

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