Summary

Jean Porter is the John A. O’Brien Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on the moral theory of Thomas Aquinas, seen in the context of his scholastic interlocutors, on the one hand, and contemporary moral philosophy and theology, on the other. She has written on scholastic theories of natural law, Thomisitc virtue theory, and philosophical and theological views on legal theory. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a past President of the Society of Christian Ethics.
"I want to suggest that we as a nation responded initially to terrorist assaults and the threat of further attacks with a kind of courage, a firm resolve to hold onto central values, including equality, tolerance, and respect for the rule of law. However, over the past fifteen years, our attitudes as a civic society, as expressed by the actions taken in our name, reflect a growing unwillingness to live with risk and, correspondingly, a willingness to do almost anything to our supposed enemies, in order to secure our own safety.  In other words, we as a nation have moved from courage to a kind of cowardice when it comes to our attitudes towards these threats. I will consider some of the possible causes of this development, and suggest some ways in which we might reclaim our initial courage."