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The Conservative Talks

Ferenc Hörcher: Rediscovering Prudence

It should perhaps surprise no conservative how often discussions of “virtue" are dismissed as cranky in progressive circles. For scholars of political theory no less than amongst the general public, a set of new value systems has come to replace the premodern imperatives of exercising justice, prudence, courage and temperance—the cardinal four virtues in the Greek-Roman-Christian tradition. The latest liberal-egalitarian categories for assessing public conduct make any re-evaluation of these old attributes even more difficult in turn, by devaluing the very notion of the common good toward which morality is to be ordained. That hasn’t dissuaded the least bit Ferenc Hörcher, who heads the National University of Public Service's Research Institute for Politics and Government in Budapest. His latest book culminates the work of 20 years endeavouring to rehabilitate Aristotelian soulcraft, this time with a focus on prudence, that form of practical wisdom famously described by St. Thomas Aquinas as “right reason in action”. Hörcher further suggests prudence to be the cornerstone of conservative political philosophy.

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