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Prudence in Hobbes's political philosophy

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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.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Assistant Professor of Political Science, Flagler College, PO Box 1027, St Augustine, FL 32085-1027, USA.. Email:

Publication date: February 1, 2002

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