This essay examines, primarily, how notions of liberty have evolved over time in America. Starting from the point of establishing America’s foundation in Thomistic natural law, the essay then seeks to identify, define, and analyze different segments of American political thought that have sprung off from this staring point. Three segments are identified, Conservatism, Liberalism, and Progressivism, and then defined on how they view the self. The conservatives from God, the liberals from reason, and the progressives from how the individual interacts with society. After this, these different segments of American political thought are contrasted by viewing how they offer different prescriptions on how gender should be legislated. From this contrast, it becomes clear that, as America has progressed from its natural law beginnings to modernity, notions of liberty and the self-have moved in a decidedly inward fashion, from God and his prescriptions to the self and its desires. While this essay does not make any assertions on the positivity or lack thereof of this shift, it does make substantive claims on the strengths and weaknesses of these segments of thought, primarily on the grounds of how much order they provide for both the self and society.
Semester/Year of Award
Dr. Steve Barracca
Mentor Department Affiliation
Open Access Thesis
Weston, Zachary D., "Notions of Liberty- Traditional and Modern" (2023). Honors Theses. 989.