Standard Article


  1. John Kleinig

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee377

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Kleinig, J. 2013. Consent. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Although consent has always played some role in determining the legitimacy of human transactions, that role has greatly expanded. The marriage of individual rights to diverse conceptions of human flourishing has increased the importance of consent for interpersonal and group transactions. Consent has become (for many) a sine qua non of political legitimacy (see Political Obligation; Social Contract); informed consent is accorded a pivotal role in many professional–client relations (see Informed Consent); and – for the most part – consent transforms what would be the rights-invasions of assault, theft, and rape into (say) a sporting tackle, a loan, and a romantic encounter. Why does consent have the role it does, how does it accomplish this role, and to what extent does it legitimate such transactions?


  • philosophy;
  • practical (applied) ethics