The European Union and the tradition of normative prudence

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    While the European Union (EU) is not beyond dispute, political theorists have ignored or unsatisfactorily dealt with the question of whether a moral justification exists for the EU. The present article aims to address this lacuna by proposing a moral-political standard for EU assessment rooted in the virtue-ethical tradition of ‘normative prudence’. The article’s thesis is that the relatively demanding, more other-regarding ‘higher prudence’ is the virtue the EU as a supranational organization should come to embody in order to qualify as morally justified. A fourfold argument is developed. First, the moral-political tradition of normative prudence is highly relevant to international and European politics. Second, the realistic, more self-regarding ‘lower prudence’ applies to the state sovereignties the supranational EU has characteristically aimed to transcend and therefore could not suffice as its virtue. Third, to meet the as yet unmet requirements of ‘higher prudence’, the EU should assume positive and negative moral obligations for giving extra weight to other-regarding considerations in its policies, since (i) as ‘security consumer’ and ‘welfare creator’ it possesses the added economic capacity to do this and (ii) as a ‘regionalist’ project it is in basic and historical tension with global justice. Fourth, for the EU to transform itself into a sovereign, ‘lower prudent’ European ‘state’ would tragically imply the moral failure of the European integration project.
    Keywords: European Union; global justice; justification; normative prudence; supranationalism
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1037
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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