I am an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Fordham University. I work mainly in political philosophy and critical social theory.
My current research focuses on the historical development and contemporary practice of humanitarianism and human rights. Much of my work has engaged Jürgen Habermas's social and political theory, and I am generally interested in methodological debates among normative, historical, and critical approaches.
In 2013-14, I was a Member in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ). I am currently working on a book on the problem of distant suffering.
Reframing the Intercultural Dialogue on Human Rights: A Philosophical Approach
(Routledge 2014, issued in paperback 2016).
"A model work of political philosophy: careful and clear in its argument, rich in detail, and ambitious in scope."
- Stephen C. Angle, Wesleyan University -- Full review at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
”An exciting new contribution to the literature on human rights. Flynn systematically reconstructs Habermas’s discourse-theoretical approach to human rights and compellingly argues for its superiority over rival approaches.”
- Amy Allen, Dartmouth College
"Written in lucid and incisive prose, the book comprehensively reexamines the role, limits, and ideal nature of intercultural dialogue on human rights in the contemporary world. The result is a deeply valuable and timely piece of scholarship, and one that is well suited to spur the creation of new philosophical research on this ever more pressing topic."
- Adam Etinson, University of St. Andrews -- Full Review at Political Theory
In this book, I stress the vital role of intercultural dialogue in developing a non-ethnocentric conception of human rights. I argue that Jürgen Habermas’s discourse theory provides both the best framework for such dialogue and a much-needed middle path between philosophical approaches that derive human rights from a single foundational source and those that support multiple foundations for human rights (Charles Taylor, John Rawls, and various Rawlsians).
By analyzing the historical and political context for debates over the compatibility of human rights with Christianity, Islam, and "Asian Values," I develop a philosophical approach that is continuous with and a critical reflection on the intercultural dialogue on human rights. I reframe the dialogue by situating it in relation to the globalization of modern institutions and by arguing that such dialogue must address issues like the legacy of colonialism and global inequality while also being attuned to actual political struggles for human rights.