Baylor > Political Science > Undergraduate Program > Honors Theses for 2008


Honors Theses Completed in 2008 by Political Science

and International Studies Majors


Kevin Goll, Political Science
Dr. David Corey, mentor

Room on the Right: The Differences within Modern Conservatism

The Twentieth Century saw the rise of conservatism as a political philosophy and an intellectual movement in western democracies. This thesis will compare and contrast four prominent strands of conservatism and in an attempt to find a sense of core orthodoxy, it will center around four thinkers and their seminal works - Fredrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, Michael Oakeshott's Rationalism in Politics, Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue, and Marvin Olasky's Compassionate Conservatism. In general, Hayek argues an economic case against central planning; Oakeshott longs for an individualism concerned with the present; MacIntyre desires a return of moral tradition and sense of community; and Olasky offers an Evangelical Christian alternative to the modern welfare state. Each thinker contributes significantly to conservatism while differing profoundly with one another. This thesis does not seek to deem one thinker or type of conservatism more correct or more conservative than another. It does, however, have two main conclusions. In one respect, these various strands are so distinct that it shows conservatism as not having an orthodox core, but rather as being a broad philosophy comprised of many smaller, competing philosophies which sometimes overlap. Additionally, these different strands also suggest a diversity and flexibility not often credited to conservatism.

Matthew Graham, International Studies
Dr. W. David Clinton, mentor

The Truman Administration and the Creation of the State of Israel

When the United States recognized the State of Israel, President Harry Truman was acting against the advice and wishes of his closest cabinet advisors. This paper explores the reasons behind that schism in the administration, the depth of that tension, and the underlying beliefs of those who passionately pursued Jewish statehood, as well as those who vehemently opposed it. Particular attention is paid to the exchanges between the Truman White House and the State Department, many of which were infused with high convictions. Between the moral weight of the Jewish plight and the pressing concern over the security of the West in an increasingly volatile post-war world, President Truman struggled to find the right solution. Ultimately, it was the internal pressure from Truman's own conscience that convinced him. The scope of this paper limits the inquiry to the several years leading up to Israel's creation on 15 May 1948.

Thomas Herndon, Political Science
Dr. Linda Adams, mentor

Islamic Legal Code and the Role of Women: Are Sharia Law and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women compatible?

The increasing western awareness of the Muslim world in general and the Arab world in particular, has led to a renewed interest in the nature of the East-West political discourse. In no place is this renewed interest more prominent than in the discussion of the roles of women in Arab culture. In this thesis, I examine first the origins of Sharia law with respect to its Qu'ranic roots and its growth as a corpus of law through interpretation of the hadith. I then move to examine the conflict evident between recognized international law and the Sharia personal status laws that are in force in several Arab states. I conclude that, though some small portions of Sharia law are incompatible with international law, it is, in theory, possible to reconcile much of the Sharia legal code with current international conventions.

Alan Kramer, Political Science/Medical Humanities
Dr. Richard Riley, mentor

The effectiveness of foreign aid from public and private sectors.

Currently the developed world faces a decision, one that leaves billions of lives in the developing world hanging in balance. These developed countries must decide if they will help, and in what capacity, the developing countries reverse their trends of extreme poverty and poor disease prevention. On September 8, 2000, one-hundred and ninety-one countries made a big step in the right direction. The signing of the United Nations Millennium Declaration marked the developed world's recognition of the problems blanketing the poorest countries of the world. This paper focuses on two of the goals, extreme poverty and global disease, specifically AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis. The scope of these two goals is enormous, combining to afflict 1.45 billion people around the world, with many people playing victim to both. The main question addressed is how this many people can be dying when the developed world has so many programs in place and sends so many resources to help these people. There is a disconnect somewhere and it is costing people their lives. A historical look at foreign aid and a review of the current agencies and programs in place will shine a light on the downfalls of some government policies and recognize the successes of others. Furthermore, an examination of the work being done by non-governmental organizations throughout the world will show how effective aid does not always have to go through the government. The current generation has the opportunity to make a difference for countless generations to come. The United Nations Millennium Development Project helps lay the groundwork, but we must work diligently and relentlessly to make sure the goals are accomplished in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Will Simmons, Political Science
Dr. David Corey, mentor

Four Arguments for Liberalism

In the modern political climate, the fierceness of competing parties and policy options often obscures the underlying cause of political disagreement: differences in fundamental philosophies. This thesis attempts too address the need to discern the best political philosophy if one is to participate in the political arena. In this thesis I advocate a political philosophy of classical liberalism. I examine four distinct- and sometimes incompatible - arguments for an understanding of the role of government and ordering of society based on liberty. To do this, I examine the major works of some of the most influential political thinkers of the liberal age. I conclude that individualism and liberty - in short, liberalism - are the best values to have in mind when formulating policy, whether one's point of view is logical, economic, social, or religious.