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Tom Dougherty (UNC Chapel Hill) – Consent Under Duress

23 May 2023, 6:00 PM8:00 PM BST


Consent Under Duress – Workshop and Lecture

Tom Dougherty (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


Lecture – 23rd May 2023, 6:00PM – 8:00PM


Lecture – Woburn Suite, G22/26, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

In contemporary sexual ethics, consent has a central role: its presence is crucial for sex to be morally acceptable. But consent can be rendered meaningless by duress such as coercion. Aiming to account for how duress debilitates consent, the traditional view distinguishes two categories of consensual and non-consensual sex, with the latter constituting serious sexual misconduct. On this view, if coercion reaches a threshold of severity, then the sex is non-consensual. As an alternative to the traditional view, I defend a view that is expansive and scalar. My view is expansive in the respect that it allows that consent can be undermined by all types of wrongful coercion—and indeed other types of duress besides. My view is scalar in two  respects. First, it acknowledges gradations in the gravity of misconduct. Second, it allows that when duress undermines consent, the severity of the duress can explain the degree to which it is wrongful to act on the consent.

Tom Dougherty is a core faculty member of UNC’s Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program(Opens in new window). They completed their B.A., in PPE, at Oxford (2004) and their PhD, in Philosophy, at MIT (2010). Before coming to UNC, they were a post-doctoral scholar at Stanford (2010-2012), a lecturer at the University of Sydney (2012-2014), a University Lecturer in the Philosophy Faculty at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity Hall (2014-2019) and a Faculty Fellow at the Murphy Institute of the University of Tulane (2018-2019). Dougherty is writing books on the ethics of consent and on the rational (in)significance of the fact that we act from a temporal perspective. Among other topics, they have also researched the debate over consequentialism, ethical vagueness and female under-representation in philosophy.

The lecture on the 23rd May is open to the public. A place can be reserved using the link below.

This event is co-sponsored by Kings College London and the Institute of Philosophy, SAS.

Book a space at the lecture


23 May 2023
6:00 PM–8:00 PM BST
Event Category:


Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London
King’s College Lodon


Senate House, University of London
Malet Street
London, WC1E 7HU United Kingdom
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