The Ontology of Consent

Analytic Philosophy, 2014 Forthcoming

San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 14-137

13 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2014

See all articles by Larry Alexander

Larry Alexander

University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: January 13, 2014


In this paper, I show that consent is neither a performative nor a mental state plus a signification thereof. Rather, consent is a mental state, that of waiving one’s moral or legal objection to the consented-to act. Signification provides evidence of consent but does not constitute its existence. It can, however, affect the culpability of those who act with or without that evidence. Consent does depend on what information the putative consenter possesses regarding the act in question. The informational requisites of valid consent is a quite difficult and undertheorized topic. The motivational requisites of valid consent, however, is not a difficult matter.

Keywords: consent, coercion, informed consent

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Lawrence, The Ontology of Consent (January 13, 2014). Analytic Philosophy, 2014 Forthcoming; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 14-137. Available at SSRN:

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