Most law students begin realize that consent is a powerful legal and moral concept early in the first year of law school. A physical blow to the person is a battery—unless the blow was landed in a boxing match, in which case consent turns the battery into something that is legally permissible and not actionable, even if it results in serious harm. Intercourse without consent is the very serious crime of rape; intercourse with consent is quite something else.
The basic legal structure is easy to grasp. But what is consent? Why does it have the legal and moral force that it does? When is it legally valid?
This entry in the Legal Theory Lexicon is about the idea of consent in legal contexts involving interpersonal (but not political) relationships. The entry will explore what consent is and why consent is important, both legally and morally. Our investigation will also explore the conditions under which consent might be said to be “invalid,” e.g. in cases where consent was obtained through deception, coercion, or in which the consenting person lacked capacity to give consent. As always, the Legal Theory Lexicon is aimed at law students, especially first-year law students, with an interest in legal theory.
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