Consent’s dominion: Dementia and prior consent to sexual relations

Bioethics 33 (9):1065-1071 (2019)
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In this paper, I answer the following question: suppose that two individuals, C and D, have been in a long-term committed relationship, and D now has dementia, while C is competent; if D agrees to have sex with C, is it permissible for C to have sex with D? Ultimately, I defend the view that, under certain conditions, D can give valid consent to sex with C, rendering sex between them permissible. Specifically, I argue there is compelling reason to endorse the following thesis: Prior Consent Thesis: D, when competent, can give valid prior consent to sex with her competent partner (C) that will take place after she has dementia, assuming that D is the same person as she was when she gave prior consent, meaning that, if D, when competent, gave prior consent to sex with C, then C may permissibly have sex with D. In section I, I explain both the background and the existing literature on this issue. In section II, I outline relevant stipulations about the kinds of cases I will be examining. In section III, I defend the Prior Consent Thesis. And, in section IV, I address objections to the Prior Consent Thesis.

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Samuel Director
Florida Atlantic University


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