Consent and Concepts
Author(s)Hodges, Jerome,Ph. D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Sally Haslanger, Stephen Yablo, and Bradford Skow.
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This dissertation lays out the groundwork for building a theory of radical consent and autonomy. Chapter 1, "Framing Consent," argues for a context-sensitive account of the semantic content of consent claims, and presents an introductory model of consenting as a speech act. In particular, I argue for a contrastive model of consent claims, in which consent is given against a backdrop of relevant alternatives. More generally, I argue that the context-sensitivity of the sort guaranteed by this model -- viz. context-sensitivity of what is consented to in a consent claim --is an ineluctable feature of such claims. This has far-reaching consequences, I claim, for the use of consent in both normative ethics and political philosophy. Chapter 2, "Conceptual Amelioration and Epistemic Responsibility," co-authored with Ekaterina Botchkina, looks at the question of conceptual amelioration more generally: when thinking about concepts,1 what is the proper role of value considerations? There we argue that, under a remarkably theory-neutral constraint, at least some conceptual interventions motivated by concerns of justice are acceptable. In particular, we suggest that particular accounts of amelioration offered or suggested by Mark Richard and Sally Haslanger are too restrictive in their metaphysical and semantical commitments to provide a general account of how amelioration is possible.Instead, we suggest that the core aim of amelioration can be understood as preserving a sort of conceptual possibility, and that this preservation is precisely what is aimed at in scientific theories' development of concepts -- in the decision, for instance, to abandon the concept of [æther] while retaining (but refining) the concept of [atom]. As such, amelioration isn't as unusual -- or as troubling -- as it might at first blush appear. We use a tool suggested by Steve Yablo -- what we call the "Turning-Out Test" --as a way to test for conceptual possibility, and thus epistemic responsibility. Chapter 3, "Performative Consent and Autonomy," returns to consent, and specifically to the role of consent in legal and quasi-legal contexts of sexual assault and battery. I argue there that the speech-act account suggested in Chapter 1 is justfied flied in such contexts on the ameliorationist grounds articulated in Chapter 2. I then extend these considerations to extra-legal contexts, and show that this account is compatible with radical feminist claims around sexual assault. In particular, I defend the possibility of an account of assault in which, at least sometimes, whether a sexual assault has occurred may depend upon a survivor's posterior assessment of the event.
Thesis: Ph. D. in Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, September, 2020Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 105-110).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistics and Philosophy.