Difference between Assent and Consent (with Table)

Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘Assent’ as ‘official agreement to or approval of something’, which essentially denotes any agreement or any mutually acceptable decision which has been taken at formal environments such as workplaces and similar. This assent can be anything, varying from approval from the boss, or a team selecting a leader, or the execution of a decision under the assent of the concerned person.

Now, when we look up the word ‘Consent’ in the Oxford Dictionary, we see it defined as ‘permission to do something, especially given by somebody in authority’. Just off the top of one’s head, we can see that this can easily confuse people, due to the presence of the word ‘authority’. It is, however, important to note here that by ‘authority’, one does not restrict this action of giving permission to the workplace only. This can be anywhere, and any figure of authority can express consent, however, when matters are strictly official, we generally use assent. The difference between Assent and Consent is that the former is used for workplace-related agreements and the latter is used as an expression of permission from a person of authority, at any place.

Comparison Table between Assent and Consent

Parameters of ComparisonAssentConsent
MeaningAgreeing to a decision or agreeing to something whose parameters have been mutually decided.Obtaining permission from a figure of authority, not necessarily only in the workplace or giving permission to perform an activity.
UsageMostly in the workplace / formal environments.Used anywhere.
Used ByCan be given by a team, a person in power. People in the workplace / formal environments.Given by a person in authority. Not necessarily in formal environments only.
NatureFormalMostly informal.
MoralityNot related to issues of moral concern.Involves issues of moral concern.

What is Assent?

Assent is the official agreement to do something. To elaborate, suppose a team meeting is taking place. In that meeting, there are many multiple members, each of them having their own opinions, thoughts, and verdicts. Now when the team tries to arrive at a conclusion, the initial idea goes through numerous changes and modifications, and finally a decision is made. It is then when we say that the decision is made under the assent of the team.

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Another way assent might be explained is, suppose an employee of a company got an idea as to how to tackle a certain problem that their company has been facing. She then presents the idea to her boss, who then reviews it. If the boss considers the solution viable and allows it, then we say that the employee has the assent of the boss in executing this decision.

Another way the word assent might be used is for minors who are yet not of the legal age but need to execute a decision, where they use the help of an adult.

Assent can be used in sentences in the following ways:

  1. The team gave assent to execute the project.
  2. I have the boss’s assent to deploy this program.
  3. It is by common assent that we will take up this project.

The antonym of assent is dissent. Dissent occurs when a person has an opinion or judgment that is contrary to the officially accepted judgment or decision.

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What is Consent?

Consent is when a person in authority, not necessarily in a formal environment, agrees to do something or agrees to a decision. Consent can also be given by a team, provided the team in a position to do so. 

It is however worthwhile to note the use of the word ‘authority’ over here. When we say authority, we imply all kinds of authorities, such as authority over intellectual property, authority over physical property.

A person is also in a position of authority when they are asked to participate in any activity. 

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Consent also involves moral binding, which means that in cases where moral issues are involved, such as acts of intimacy, acts that go against the usual belief of a person. In such cases, when a person agrees to participate in such activities, it is said that they are giving their consent for that activity.

Sentences, where we use consent, are:

  1. My mother has given her consent for me to come to the party tonight.
  2. You do not have my consent for such atrocious activities.
  3. All the members gave their consent and elected her as their leader.

The antonym of consent is forbidden, which is when a person in authority does not give permission or orders to stop activity from taking place.

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Main Differences Between Assent and Dissent

  1. The main difference between Assent and Dissent is the place where it is used. Assent is used for more formal work-like environments while consent is not bound to any specific environment.
  2. Assent defines the agreement to the execution or implementation of a mutually agreed-upon decision or a decision that will benefit a company/organization/team. Consent is more individual-focused. However, it is worthwhile to note that consent can involve a team too.
  3. Issues of moral values are not dealt with by assent. They are dealt with by consent.
  4. Assent is also used for minors, where they have an adult acting on behalf of them. We can say that the minor has given ‘assent’ for the activity and that the adult has given ‘consent’ to represent the minor.
  5. In legal aspects, when a person gives an assent, it does not carry any legal significance, however, if consent is given, it carries a legal significance.
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Conclusion

Decisions, agreements, and implementation are integral functioning parts of companies, social groups, teams, etc. However, it is necessary to understand the small difference that lies between Assent and Consent as it is very useful at times.

Of course, while moving in a social group, among friends, it does not seem so important, but in matters such as making a very important decision for a company or matters of legal interest, these terms are important to be familiar with. 

References

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3564579?seq=1
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12910-015-0067-z