The Political Science Undergraduate Research Group has been having a great time working with Dr. Joseph Hebert on the topic of “Law and Liberty.” Four students—Joseph Dillon, Christopher Hollis, Alexandria Curry, and Natividad Hirsch Bautista—have been brought together by their love of political science and political philosophy. Together they are reading and analyzing works by and about Sir Thomas More, the Renaissance poet, historian, philosopher, statesman, and martyr. Primary themes include the purpose and limits of political authority, and the interrelation of law, liberty, virtue, reason, faith, and conscience.
Alexandria is a majoring in political science, and her individual project is on the importance of More’s argument for the education of women in light of his understanding of the nature of liberal education and its importance for the promotion of personal excellence and a free and just society.
Natividad is majoring in political science, international studies, and Spanish. Her research project compares the imaginary and allegorical regime described in Thomas More’s Utopia to that of Plato’s Republic, one of More’s main sources. She is focusing on what these works tell us about the virtues required of political leaders as well as the economic, political, and social structures most conducive to justice and human flourishing.
Joe is majoring in political science with a pre-law concentration and is pursuing an English minor. His topic is centered around the legitimacy Sir Thomas More’s trial. Through evaluation of More’s political and philosophical beliefs we can gain a deeper understanding of the significance of his resistance to the consolidation of absolute power on the part of the English monarchy. More’s own understanding of the relation of law to fundamental principles of ethics and reason and the consequent need for checks and balances in government can help us to rebut recent scholarly claims that his trial was procedurally fair by the standards of his day.
Chris is majoring in International Studies and Spanish. His research focuses on the problem that Plato’s “Euthyphro dilemma” poses to the harmony of faith and reason underlying the personal integrity More lived and died for, and the importance of Thomas Aquinas’s solution of this dilemma to understanding More’s confidence in proclaiming that his resistance to tyranny was just and that a just man can suffer pain but not harm.