Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

Document Type



This dissertation examines Bartolomé de Las Casas as a Thomistic political philosopher. It argues that Las Casas intentionally drew upon the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas in order to provide a robust philosophical anthropology that was able to defend Amerindian rationality and self-rule. He uses Thomas and the Classical tradition to disprove the notion that the Amerindians are natural slaves, to uphold the inherent goodness of politics, to protect Amerindian kingdoms from imperial claims and the direct power of the papacy, and to condemn the unjust wars of the Spanish Conquest of the Americas. Las Casas’ Thomism is particularly important because he provides an alternative to his great contemporary, Francisco de Vitoria. Whereas Vitoria’s Thomism defends certain aspects of the Conquest through the ius gentium, Las Casas’ Thomism leads to a more comprehensive condemnation of the Conquest.



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Committee Chair

Stoner, James