Bodies, Liberal Political Theory, and Public Health Law


Oct 3, 2013
12:00 PM until 01:00 PM


In every age, the threat of disease and infection looms, and is accompanied by responsibilities of the state and its citizens to guard individual and community health. Prof. Rosenthal explores those cases in which individuals refuse to comply with public health regulations involving compulsory treatment, medication, or surgery. One strand of this jurisprudence recognizes the right of the state to mandate compliance with health laws through penalties, i.e., the refusal to provide benefits such as employment, school enrollment, or isolation but does not permit the state actually to enter the body of the non-compliant citizen. A second strand of this jurisprudence permits the state to treat the uncooperative individual forcibly (e.g., for tuberculosis.) Beginning with an examination of Jacobson v Massachusetts and Buck v Bell, this lecture considers the roots and implications of these twisted strands of public health jurisprudence.

Alisa Rosenthal, Ph.D., is a Professor of Political Science at Gustavus Adolphus College. Professor Rosenthal studies political theory, reconciliation studies, constitutional law, and feminist theory. She has presented her research to the American Political Science Association, the Western Political Science Association, and the Law and Society Association, and serves as an officer for the Association for Political Theory.  She is completing work on Liberal Bodies: Bodily Invasion and Political Theory and has published The Subject of Suffering: Deliberative Democracy and Injustice (coauthored with Julie White). At Gustavus Adolphus, Professor Rosenthal teaches courses in ancient and modern political theory, constitutional law, political and legal thinking, and civil rights and liberties.  Dr. Rosenthal received her B.A. magna cum laude from Beloit College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in political science. Prior to teaching at Gustavus, she taught at Rollins College.

1 Standard CLE Credit has been requested.




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1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN

Additional Information


Hamline Health Law Institute, Public Interest Law Community, American Constitution Society



Contact name

Deb Lange

Contact email

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