Question in question: If the justifications for informed consent are questionable, then why would it be a legal requirement?

I wonder why is this question get 9 downvotes? Is it low research effort, unclear or not useful? I know that if you are not a downvoter then this is just a speculation, but I still wonder why. How can I improve it?

  • TLDR: probably because you seem to be arguing that an obscure philosophical point invalidates peoples' intuition for what is a widely accepted practice. I mean you do say "it seems to me that the justifications for informed consent are largely challenged, if not foundered". Dec 27, 2020 at 4:32
  • An frankly the quote itself is a combo of a "Gish gallop" and "no true Scotsman". Dec 27, 2020 at 4:53
  • 1
    FYI: The author of that SEP piece is also one of the academics who proposed human challenge trials for Covid-19 vaccines, instead of the usual phase III stuff. Suffice to say his ideas are not quite mainstream. Dec 27, 2020 at 7:13
  • I don't know much about about politics or medical sciences or ethics, so I can't comment. However, I think that SEP articles (including that one) are just literature review. Plus that the site is used by graduate students of philosophy, so I guess it's trustworthy?
    – Ooker
    Dec 27, 2020 at 18:21
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    Narrative reviews are never purely objective. The reviewer injects their own biases. This much more so the case in a field like philosophy, in which there are no real quantitative standards by which to judge works. Dec 27, 2020 at 18:23
  • I agree. This is what I've been always wondering. See: How does philosophy not fall into confirmation bias? However, based on my understanding on other SEP articles about relevant concepts such as decision-making capacity, relational autonomy, consequentialism, I would say that they seem to align with what the author says.
    – Ooker
    Dec 28, 2020 at 9:08

1 Answer 1


This is a type of question that tends to get downvotes. The structure is :

  • The reason for a certain law is X Y and Z.
  • But X Y and Z are not good reasons for this law
  • Therefore this law is wrong.
  • Prove me wrong...

There are lots of questions like this about drug law

What's the point of legalising dangerous drugs in some states in the US?

Why are many safe narcotics illegal?

Why very few countries/states try taxing and legalizing safe soft drugs?

And more that have been closed and deleted.

Your question seems similar. It makes a supposition "The reasons for informed consent are questionable". Then it presents a long quote which may present this argument. Then it seems to ask for a counterargument.

The problem with the drugs questions is that they aren't really inquiries into a political process, but an attempt to argue a point. They are a disgused form of "I think drugs should be legal and here is why..." (and I'm not actually interested in the answers).

Now on closer reading, your quote doesn't actually present an argument against informed consent, and that was the basis of my answer (which essentially just summarised the quote).

Moreover this is a strongly emotional topic. And you seem to be arguing agaist informed consent. If you seem to be taking an unpopular point of view, you can expect to be unpopular.

I think much of the downvotes come from the title "If the justifications for informed consent are questionable, then why would it be a legal requirement?" As this doesn't summarise the question well. It seems to be assuming that "the justifications are questionable". It seems to be presenting an argument. The quote you give doesn't seem to present that argument, so some downvoters might feel you can answer the question merely by reading your own source carefully.

A better title, focussed on what exactly you don't understand about the source could have got a more positive response.

  • So people downvote it because they disagree of the premise, rather than because it lacks of research or isn't useful? Is this popular and is it harmful to the site? Would this title be better? "The justifications for informed consent seem to be questionable but still be an inescapable inquiring legal requirement. Why is that?"
    – Ooker
    Dec 24, 2020 at 5:33
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    @Ooker This is a challenge in general for this site. A question should be an open question, not an effort to push an opinion or argument. As JamesK explained, your question (or at least the title) asserted a point and argued in favor of that – while it’s often difficult to avoid doing some of that on a site about politics, it’s something we try to avoid. A better question would not make an argument. You could ask about why informed consent is a legal requirement, or you could ask about that specific argument against it.
    – divibisan
    Dec 25, 2020 at 17:08
  • @divibisan I understand that, agree with that, and try to do that. But I don't know how to not saying as if I'm pushing an opinion. What can I word the title otherwise if the source and my understanding to it are correct? Plus that in emotional topics, I think even when you really don't intend to push any argument, people can still perceive that you are doing so
    – Ooker
    Dec 26, 2020 at 7:09
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    @Ooker - Maybe something like "Why does this article make this claim?"
    – Bobson
    Jan 4, 2021 at 16:50

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