Prudence is good judgment in the pursuit of one’s interests. A prudent person characteristically acts in a rationally self-interested way, with long-term considerations in mind. An imprudent person might pursue short-term pleasures and later deal with bad consequences that outweigh the pleasures. Prudence is therefore not just a matter of desire satisfaction; in fact, prudence often involves deferring gratification in aid of maximizing it. Prudence is a virtue in a manager or a professional person, particularly one who is another person’s agent. Imprudence in one’s own case is foolish; imprudence on another’s behalf is morally irresponsible. This entry examines the concept of prudence, Aristotle’s understanding of prudence and the good life, and the application of both concepts in contemporary business practice.

Defining Prudence

A prudent investor takes ...

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