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The Ethics of Consent

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The Ethics Centre

161 Castlereagh Street

Sydney, NSW 2000

Australia

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Does anything go if prior consent has been given?

Every day we give our consent. We agree to do certain things, and give permission for certain things to be done to us.

But how many of our choices are made on free will alone? Have you ever agreed to go a baby shower you didn’t want to attend, just so you wouldn’t offend the expectant mum? Have you chosen not to raise something that annoys you with your partner, just to keep the peace? And how many countless times have you accepted T&Cs without reading them?

The idea of consent gets especially tricky when we start talking about things most of us don’t fully understand – complex surgery, where our super is invested, and how companies access and use our personal data. How informed do we have to be before we can give ‘informed consent’?

The law also places limits around when it thinks we’re capable of giving permission. They agree minors can’t give informed consent for sex, medical matters and legally binding contracts. Those with mental disabilities might not be able to give informed consent. And no Australian is allowed to agree to have someone else help them end their own life.

When is consent truly ours to give?

Join us as we challenge the “yes means yes” and “no means no” definition of consent.

SPEAKERS:

Lucie Bee deals with consent every day as a sex worker, adult entertainer and activist. She has appeared on the ABC’s You Can’t Ask That and Hack Live, The Project and has written for Junkee and other media outlets.

Eleanor Gordon-Smith is a philosopher and radio producer who has extensively researched, thought about and taught on the ethics of consent. You can hear her work – and voice – on ABC RN’s The Philosopher’s Zone and This American Life.

Elisabeth Shaw is a clinical and counselling psychologist who deals with the grey areas of consent in relationships and families. She is the clinical director of Relationships Australia and a Senior Consultant at The Ethics Centre.

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The Ethics Centre

161 Castlereagh Street

Sydney, NSW 2000

Australia

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