Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

David Boonin

Second Advisor

Eric Chwang

Third Advisor

Christopher Heathwood

Fourth Advisor

Michael Huemer

Fifth Advisor

Claudia Mills


In all areas of our life, consent plays a central role in determining the moral status of our actions. In the areas of healthcare and medical research, obtaining valid consent from the patient is of utmost importance. Traditionally, it is believed that the consent of the patient is valid if and only if the following three conditions are met: disclosure, capacity, and voluntariness. This dissertation focuses on the last requirement, voluntariness. Under what conditions is consent given voluntarily? At the very least, voluntariness requires freedom from certain kinds of manipulation or interference. I will explore two methods of manipulation that are purported to undermine voluntariness: coercion and undue inducement. Regarding coercion, I will argue that it never invalidates consent, and that this shows that voluntariness is not necessary for valid consent. Regarding undue inducement, I will argue that it does not, or is very unlikely to, invalidate consent, and that we should reject the standard solution proposed to prevent it.