Sexual Deception and Sexual Consent: A Reply to Tom Dougherty
Motivated by a commitment to protect sexual autonomy, Tom Dougherty (2013) has argued that deceiving someone into sex is seriously morally wrong whenever the deception concerns a deal breaker of the victim, i.e. a feature of the sexual encounter to which the other person's will is opposed. While I share both Dougherty's commitment to sexual autonomy and his misgivings about the permissibility of sexual deception, there are elements of his argumentation that require significant amendment if the commitment to upholding sexual autonomy is to be fulfilled. In this paper I argue that if Dougherty is to uphold his commitment to protecting sexual autonomy then he must, firstly, replace his preferred account of consent, which is an attitudinal account of consent that maintains that consent consists solely of the formation of the private intention to consent, with a performative account of consent that maintains that in addition to the formation of the private intention to consent, a communicative act is also required for consent. Secondly, I argue that the performative account of consent ought to be supplemented with a hyper-explicit definition of sexual consent.