History of Political Thought 23 (2):288-302 (2002)

This essay explores three questions: What are the salient features of Hobbes's concept of prudence? Prudence for Hobbes is a capacity to predict the future rooted in experience. Second, can 'Hobbesian individuals' have significantly different capacities for prudence? Challenging a common view, asserted even by Hobbes himself, I contend that Hobbes's own conception of prudence yields significant variation across individuals' capacities for prudence. Finally, what is the role of prudence in Hobbes's political thought? A consequence of the significant variation among individuals is that prudence plays a much more consequential role in Hobbes's political philosophy than is often appreciated.
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