Wise Action: An Examination of Prudence and Morality

Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo (2003)

David Kaspar
St. John's University
Morality is dependent upon prudence. To put the matter differently, one cannot be moral without being prudent. While this central contention of Wise Action is evident to common sense, contemporary moral theory is unable to accept it for two reasons. Morality is supposed to be the supreme normative consideration in any given situation. Moreover, since immoral actions often are guided by self-interested---and therefore prudent---reasons, prudence can't but be opposed to morality. While each of these common assumptions contains an important grain of truth, interpreting them correctly requires a thorough understanding of prudence. Wise Action explores the nature and content of prudence, and describes its relation to morality in the field of action. Problems which continue to undermine the credibility of moral theory, such as moral dilemmas and moral luck, are more properly understood as problems of prudence. Once it is given its due as a normative consideration, prudence solves these problems with ease
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