Dylan Evans

Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Political Science BA


Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

First Advisor

Troy Gibson, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs


We are living in a moment of societal breakdown, as America is increasingly plagued with fractious polarization along political and cultural lines. The potential causes of this are complex and exist within a broad spectrum of possibilities, with the potential solutions being even more contentious. However, it is my contention that identity is the central issue here. As people begin to place their identities in a religious devotion to the liberal state as opposed to a transcendent ideal, once simple, agreed-upon premises become harsh divides, and polarization ensues. To fully evaluate how this has happened, and thus how it may be solved, I am going to turn to the thinkers that helped form our modern conception of the state, identity, religion, natural law, and human nature. I will include analyses of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Marx, Darwin, and Rawls. With their insights, I will evaluate how we got to the position we are in today, and how liberalism has led to the destruction of transcendent morality and human nature. From there I will weigh various alternatives to modern liberalism, ultimately offering a solution based on incremental, local change rooted in transcendent morality and true tolerance.