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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: D. Robert MacDougall, MDiv (Saint Louis University)
Description: This is a collection of essays on different facets of the ethics of consent by well-known authors from a variety of disciplines. The essays are organized into two sections, corresponding roughly to theory and praxis.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a contemporary, general and multidisciplinary treatment of the topic of consent, which has not been previously addressed in this way in a book-length format. Because consent is a foundational concept in political theory, law, bioethics, and the ethics of sexuality, this goal is both laudable and important. This book abundantly meets its goals and fills a gap in the existing literature.
Audience: The preface cites a prevalent attitude in bioethics literature that the ethics of consent can be addressed entirely within the context of biomedical ethics, and so this book was perhaps conceived with bioethicists and research ethicists in mind. However, because the book is written by experts working in a variety of disciplines, the book will be relevant for a wide cross-section of academics, in bioethics but also in law, political theory, and gender and sexuality studies. The authors are of some of the most important figures who have written on this topic previously.
Features: The book devotes considerable attention to consent as a concept, asking important questions such as can someone consent to harm, and what are the moral foundations of the duty to acquire consent prior to medical interventions? The section on praxis contains four essays devoted to bioethics topics, although these are balanced with several essays dealing with contracts, political obligation, and sexual relations. The editors contribute a total of three essays between them which build, to some extent, on each other and the other essays. Apart from this, however, little perceivable integration occurs among the essays, meaning that although this book is intended to provide "cross-pollination" among disciplines, most of the interdisciplinary work will have to be done by the readers themselves.
Assessment: This is a valuable addition to the literature because it brings together substantial and original works on consent from a variety of fields.