Principles of Justice


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Jellema Lecture


In these lectures, Prof. Porter explores the idea that justice is a virtue, following along the lines set by Aquinas's discussion of the cardinal virtue of justice in the Summa Theologiae, but also going beyond what he says through focused engagement with recent theories of justice, in both communal and personal/relational contexts, reflects a rational appropriation of the natural forms of life proper to us as social animals. In more contemporary terms, one might say that justice is fundamentally grounded in the good rather than the right. Yet Aquinas also says that the right is the object of the virtue of justice, and this suggests that the good as he understands it is in no way incompatible with acknowledging individual claims to self-determination and fundamental forms of respect and forbearance. Prof. Porter's research interests lie primarily in the areas of foundational moral theology and the history of Christia n thought, especially in the scholastic period. Her most recent publications include Nature as Reason: A Thomistic Theory of Natural Law (Eerdmans, 2005), which develops a contemporary theological accound of natural law, and Ministers of the Law: A Natural Law of Legal Authority (Eerdmans. 2010), which offers a theory of positive law based on the theory of natural law developed in Nature as Reason. In addition, she is the author of three other books and over thirty scholarly articles in refereed journals or as chapters of books. In 1997, she received a prestigious Luce Fellowship in Theology, and in 2005 she served as the President of the Society of Christian Ethics.

Publication Date



2012 Lecture 2 of 2.