On 12th June, 12-13pm, 2023, the Research Center in Applied Ethics (CCEA) will host a conference by Professor Quill R Kukla on “Ambivalence, Agency, and Consent”, at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest. Quill R Kukla is Professor of Philosophy and a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, where they are also the director of Disability Studies and Editor-in-Chief of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. For 2021-2023, they are a Humboldt Research Scholar at Leibniz University Hannover. Quill Kukla’s main areas of research are ethics (especially sexual ethics, theories of agency and autonomy, bioethics, and science ethics), philosophy of language, social epistemology, philosophy of science (especially geography and medicine), and anti-oppression philosophy.
A sneak peek of Professor Quill Kukla’s talk: Typical contemporary discussions of sexual consent take it for granted that all consent ought to be enthusiastic, fully informed, and undivided. However, we often feel ambivalent about engaging in various activities, and we are also often unsure what it would be like to experience them. I argue that an adequate account of consent needs to take this kind of ambivalence into account. Not only can ambivalent consent be ethical, but in fact, putting in place the right kind of conditions that let someone safely explore activities about which they feel ambivalent can importantly enhance and expand agency. More generally, I argue, we need to attend to what consent looks like in messy and nonideal circumstances, if we are to understand its ethical and practical nuances. I explore how we can provide the right kind of social scaffolding to enable people to explore activities about which they feel ambivalent. I offer a new account of what consensual activity is–one that makes room for this kind of ambivalence and that portrays consent as always socially situated.