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Anni Raty

Abstract

Arguments for what consent is often appeal to its functions. For instance, some argue that because consent functions to express the consent-giver’s autonomous control over her normative boundaries, consent must consist in a mental state. In this paper, I argue that consent has an often-overlooked function and that its having this function has consequences for our views of what consent is. I argue that consent has a relationship-shaping function: acts of consent can alter and enable personal relationships. This function grounds an argument for the following claim: some acts of consent cannot be morally transformative unless there is uptake, or acceptance, or cooperation, on the recipient’s part. At least some acts of consent need to be “cosigned” by both parties. This rules out what I call “unilateral” conceptions of consent, according to which consent can always be given by the giver alone and nobody else needs to enter the picture.

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