About Me

I am an assistant professor of Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law, at the University of Richmond, where I teach ethics. 

My current research addresses the ethics of self-medication. Agencies like the FDA have a pervasive, and sometimes deadly impact on citizens’ lives. My book project, Liberal Medicine, is the first sustained philosophical inquiry into the ethics of medical regulations like premarket safety and efficacy trials and the prescription drug system.
I argue that prohibitions on access to therapeutic medicines violate our basic rights and are inconsistent with the doctrine of informed consent. The same considerations that ground the right to refuse medical treatment also tell in favor of rights to self-medication.  The practical implications of this claim are clear, but these conclusions also inform important theoretical debates about paternalism and basic rights, the democratic legitimacy of regulatory agencies, and the ethics of killing and letting die. 
I have also written articles about public health paternalism, the Affordable Care Act, off-label pharmaceutical marketing, pediatric neuroenhancement, vaccination, contagious transmission, and charismatic leadership.  My next project will address whether laws that are designed to protect people from danger, particularly dangerous consumer and labor choices, can be justified. I argue that non-prohibitive laws that protect citizens from risk are sometimes justified, but that the state should respect dangerous preferences and choices. I am also researching the ethics and politics of childbirth.

More generally, I am interested in applied ethics, ethics and public policy, the history of political thought, feminist theory, normative ethics, and constitutional theory.

I have a PhD from the Program in Political Philosophy at Princeton University. I also earned an MA in political science from Washington University in St. Louis. My BA is from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with highest honors in Political Science and Philosophy.

You can find more information information about my teaching and research, as well as my CV in the links to the left.

I also write for BHL, and my academia profile is here
My email address is flanigan (at) richmond (dot) edu