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The Virtue of Prudence

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Douglas Den Uyl

How is it possible for something to be a supreme virtue at one time and later to be perceived as no virtue at all? This is the legacy left to us by the virtue of prudence. At one time, prudence was regarded as the highest of the «four cardinal virtues». Many today, in contrast, take prudence to be incompatible with morality. In this book Den Uyl examines prudence from both a topical and historical perspective. The «devolution» of the virtue of prudence is discussed by examining certain central figures in the history of ethics. In addition, the frameworks in ethical theory most conducive or detrimental to prudence being regarded as a virtue are examined as well. Den Uyl concludes his study with a theory of prudence rooted in the classical ethical tradition but suited to modern pluralistic social settings.