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Consent and deception

Jubb, R. (2017) Consent and deception. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, 12 (2). pp. 223-229. ISSN 1559-3061

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To link to this item DOI: 10.26556/jesp.v12i2.192

Abstract/Summary

Tom Dougherty has recently attacked what he calls the lenient view about sexual deception. The lenient view differentiates between different types of sexual deception, treating some as seriously wrong but excusing others. Dougherty instead claims that all deception about matters which would make a difference to whether consent is given invalidates consent, in part because doing so rejects inappropriate moralism about sexual behaviour. Dougherty’s position generalizes. All deception about deal-breakers invalidates consent. This, I suggest, is particularly troubling, given the important role deception plays in smoothing social relations. There are powerful reasons for allowing at least some deception both in sexual relations and social life more generally. I counter Dougherty’s two arguments. First, I provide an explanation of the seriousness of the wrongdoing involved in some sexual deceptions which does not turn either on consent to the sex involved or its harmfulness. This shows, contra Dougherty, that the lenient view can be defended without appeal to a moralized view about sexual consent. Second, I note that deception does not seem to invalidate necessary consent in a range of non-sexual cases. This can be explained without relying on a moralized account of the practice involved. Parallel explanations are available for why sexual deceit does not invalidate permissions necessary to make sex acceptable. This does not amount to a complete defence of the lenient view, which I agree is most probably wrong about at least some sexual deception. It does however give ample reason for scepticism about Dougherty’s alternative.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:72483
Publisher:University of Southern California

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