Rejecting AssentByron J. Stoyles (Trent University)
1151 Richmond Street
Philosophers have paid considerable attention to the concept of informed consent and the criteria for obtaining consent in the context of therapeutic intervention and in the context of research involving human subjects. We have paid considerably less attention to the related concept of assent and the widely adopted requirement that care providers and researchers must respect assent and dissent in scenarios in which individuals, such as children, can express willingness or unwillingness to undergo treatment or to participate as subjects in research even if they are not deemed competent to give or refuse consent. I argue that existing policies and practices related to assent are conceptually and ethically problematic and should be abandoned.
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