What Is Consent?

Here is my latest on consent:

Music Credits:
Give It to Me Baby, Rick James; and Fire, Ohio Players.

For more information about first and second order desires, there is Frankfurt’s piece Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person and David Lewis’s piece on dispositonal theories of value, but normally I associate second order desires with alcoholics wanting to stop and other instances of people reflecting on their own desires. It was Steven Smith’s book on Hegel that got me thinking in terms of second order desires as being claims on other people’s desire, and how second order desires bring us to think of desire satisfaction as a problem for political freedom.

On pg. 117, Smith takes the desire for recognition as a second order desire, a desire about how we want to be seen. It’s a desire about other people’s comportment towards us, so if I want you to see me as a hot lover, the object of my desire is your desire for me. And when the object of a desire is a desire, the logic of its satisfaction is going to be different from when the object of a desire is something else, and in satisfying these second order desire, we have to talk about conditions of possibility, rather than force and cause. (I suspect HRC is feeling this frustration right now: she can’t force or cause me to want her.) That’s how second order desires take on a political valence. I’ve never seen them quite used like this, but I think this is right and a helpful way to talk about consent in a way that leans on contemporary literature.

I also mention Nancy Hirschmann’s book, The Subject of Liberty. It really is a lovely book for all of those interested in feminism, rational choice, and freedom.


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