Digest of terms


attitude and mind-set which is carefully cautious before decisions and actions are made. Likely consequences are weighed, along with the interests served to self and others. It is identified by tradition as a virtue, hence its periodic popularity as a first name, and punned in the film title: Prudence and the Pill.

'Prudence' was the traditional translation of 'phronesis', now more often rendered as 'practical wisdom. It was also for a while closely associated with 'conscience'. 

On the other hand a major contrast is drawn by some between prudence and morality. Here prudence is taken to mean focusing ultimately on what is advantageous to the agent - even if the agent is then motivated to participate in morality, this occurs for the benefit that the agent gets out of such participation. Thus while the same external conduct may result from both moral and prudential reasoning, the inner motivation will differ.

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