CFP: Consent: its nature and normative relevance

Submission deadline: January 15, 2017

Conference date(s):
June 21, 2017 - June 23, 2017

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics, University of Münster
Münster, Germany

Topic areas


By consenting to an agent’s action, we often seem to change its moral status and turn an action that is morally wrong into a permissible one. Consent can make the difference between visiting someone’s home and trespassing, between battery and surgery, and between rape and sex. Because of its relevance in cases like the ones just mentioned, consent plays an important role in, e.g., medical ethics and the philosophy of (criminal) law. 

While it is uncontroversial that consent often does make a difference to the moral status of an action, this phenomenon also gives rise to a number of questions. The aim of this conference is to provide an occasion for discussing some of the fundamental questions about consent, such as: 

  • How does consent affect the moral status of an action and the normative situation of the agent who considers performing it? 
  • Why is consent morally relevant at all? What justifies the central role that consent plays in medical ethics and elsewhere? 
  • What exactly are the criteria for a person’s consent to be valid? For example, which aspects of the action does she have to be informed about and which can be ignored without invalidating consent? 
  • How should we understand the notion proxy consent, which plays an important role in medical practice? Can someone really consent on another person’s behalf? 

 The invited speakers include:

  • Michelle Dempsey (Villanova)
  • Tom Dougherty (Cambridge)
  • Neil Manson (Lancaster)
  • David Owens (London)
  • Peter Schaber (Zürich)

We are seeking to include up to five additional papers, which might address any of the questions mentioned above, or any related issues concerning the nature or normative significance of consent. The papers should be suitable for a 30 to 40 minute presentation. We are particularly interested in current or future research projects.

If you would like to submit a paper, please send an abstract of approximately 1,000 words as a PDF attachment to The abstract should be suitable for blind review, i.e. it should not contain any information that may identify you as the author. The deadline for submission is the 15th of January 2017. You will be notified about the acceptance of your paper by the 15th of February at the latest. We will cover travelling expenses and provide hotel accommodation for all accepted speakers.

Please make sure that the e-mail to which the abstract is attached contains your name, institutional affiliation, and the title of the paper. Graduate students, postdocs and other researchers without a permanent position are especially encouraged to submit. If you fall into one of those categories, we invite you to include that information in your e-mail.

The conference is hosted by the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics at the University of Münster ( and organized by Andreas Müller and Bettina Schöne-Seifert. If you have any questions, please write to (Your inquiry will be forwarded to the organizers anonymously if that is necessary to maintain the blindness of the review process.)  

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