Silence Implies Consent

"Silence implies consent" is a concept of social interaction, which states roughly that people tend to assume lack of response to an action as tacit approval of that action.

An example of the thought process: If nobody complains about the plastic gnome I placed in my front yard, then it must be that nobody's bothered by it. In fact, everybody may be bothered by it; they're just being silent. You can't be sure that their silence truly means they are consenting to it.

On the other side of the coin, if you are being silent about an issue, be aware that others may very well be interpreting that as consent.
The maxim is Qui tacet consentiret: the maxim of the law is "Silence gives consent". -- SirThomasMore

Survives in several languages Wie zwijgt, stemt toe (Dutch), Quien se calla, otorga (Spanish), Qui ne dit mot, consent (French), Quem cala, consente (Portuguese).


{Informally phrased as "You snooze, you lose" (This is not true - this means if you are not aware during an activity, you will not be involved in the activity. For example, if I sleep late, I will lose the opportunity to enjoy my mother's breakfast, because I am too late.)}


If you're in a situation where this is true, sometimes you feel morally obligated to say "I disagree" and sign your name. -- EdwardKiser


Also, in asynchronous media, it is unfair or dangerous to guess silence implies consent, for silence may simply mean your original message (or subject, or whatever) never reached the intended audience.

Eg. the silence in the sky does not mean there's nobody out there, there are numerous causes that would work against our listening, recognizing or understanding anything from a non-Earth civilization (as our own world-broad example in failing to make much sense from dolphins or whales languages, further than our commom mammal heritage allows at a paleoencephalus level). -- DavidDeLis (I guess I was disagreeing a bit).

My theory is that the aliens are using their bandwidth very efficiently. The more efficiently you use your bandwidth, the more your signal looks just like white noise.

  : RichardDrake e-mailed me before moving content from WikiWiki to WhyClublet. I hadn't read my e-mail for a while given the RealWorld was quite busy at the time. When I objected, he accused me of going back on my word because my silence implied consent. I can assure you, I would never consent to that. -- SunirShah

If somebody calls you an idiot (or whatever) and you remain silent. Does this mean you agree with the aggressor? -- FridemarPache

No, it may mean that he's too much of an idiot to deserve a response.


In matters of politics, silence implies consent. If you disagree with those attempt to exert power, you have to speak up. If you do not, you have no one to blame for the results but yourself. This goes for the State as well as online spaces like Wiki as well as the office. Unfortunately, people generally don't have enough spirit to speak up. This opens them up to the JediMindTrick. -- SunirShah

In RobertsRulesOfOrder, the majority is determined by the number of votes cast. In effect, abstention (silence) does imply consent. Whatever is decided is done so for you.


I'm doing this tonight for the UK Census. On each page I'm writing the following text:

I object to being forced to complete this form under penalty of law.

I suppose this only gets seen by the data entry clerks, but if it generates unease anywhere in the administration that forces this on me, it's doing some good. It's avoiding the perpetration of the idea that everyone is happy about this.

-- RogerBrowne
My silence may be caused by coworkers (cow-orkers) talking so loudly and continuously that a rational thinking person can't even get a word in edgewise.

Silence may imply consent, depending on who's doing the inferring, but implying consent isn't enough when it's something big I'm consenting to, and dontcha play that game with me! -- WaldenMathews
Silence is an active part of communication. As active as any verbal re/action. If I am silent while someone is raping me, does that imply I gave consent? It does not.
There might be issues where your consent is not explicitly required but your objection valued anyways. As in the coworker examples. Following the motto: "Where there is no suitor there will be no judge" (from the German: "Wo kein Kl�ger, da kein Richter"). But if someone is violating your natural rights then by all means, you are not consenting (else he would/could not be violating your rights), so I think that silence while being raped is not consenting at all. -- WW

[@ WW, DeleteMe: ich war so frei, "defendant" mit "suitor" zu ersetzen, da defendant wohl eher der Angeklagte ist...]

I'd suggest "plaintiff" as both a more literal and appropriate translation. -- TomRossen<--- I would suggest that the word "Accuser" is more appropriate. "Where there is no accuser, there is no Judge"... [c.gott]


If silence is the answer to a proposition, then the answer is unknown. Null is the unknown. What can be reasonably assumed of the meaning of the silence is the same as what can be assumed of the value of null.


It could mean one got tired of arguing. They still may not agree, but no longer want to fight about it.


See SilenceImpliesFatigue

CategoryCommunication

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