PRUDENCE

THE VIRTUE OF PRUDENCE

PRUDENCE is essentially, the ability to discern true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; 'the prudent individual looks where they are going.' Prudence is "right reason" in action. It is not simply an attitude of caution or timidity, restraint or conservatism. Rather, the prudent person is one who can make decisions.

Prudence does not answer the question: "What is the best way in principle to do the right thing?" Rather: "What is the best way for me, in this situation, to do the right thing?" The prudent person, therefore, must investigate the situation and take counsel form others. Then, and only then, when fully informed, do they weigh the sides, and formulate a judgment of action, in light of the inquiry and advice.

Prudence presupposes the following qualities:

--Knowledge of moral principles

--experience and the ability to profit by it

--ability to learn from others

--ability to make rational inferences

--a certain inventiveness or creativity

--vision or foresight

--ability to see and weigh circumstances

--an ability to anticipate obstacles and plan to surmount them

--and finally an ability to decide in light of all the above.