Caring for Valid Sexual Consent

Hypatia (forthcoming)
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When philosophers consider factors compromising autonomy in consent, they often focus solely on the consent-giver’s agential capacities, overlooking the impact of the consent-receiver’s conduct on the consensual character of the activity. In this paper, I argue that valid consent requires justified trust in the consent-receiver to act only within the scope of consent. I call this the Trust Condition (TC), drawing on Katherine Hawley’s commitment account of trust. TC constitutes a belief that the consent-receiver is capable and willing to act as we expect from them. If such trust is not warranted, I argue, consent lacks the appropriate normative grounds. After establishing TC, I explore its application in the sexual arena, asserting that due to the non-contractual dimensions of sexual activity — such as the dynamic nature of sexual desires and the absence of external factors effectively binding sexual partners to the terms of consent—trust is warranted in sexual consent by means of care. I define care as a special sensitivity and attention toward the partner’s will and discuss how this approach leads to safer intimate relationships in practice.



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Eli Benjamin Israel
Temple University

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References found in this work

Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
Trust and antitrust.Annette Baier - 1986 - Ethics 96 (2):231-260.
Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics.Onora O'Neill - 2002 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Trust.Carolyn McLeod - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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