Higher prudence as the supreme virtue in international politics

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    This article defends a radical, morally ambitious version of prudence in international politics. Thus, it claims that, rather than the ‘lower prudence’ favoured by political realist Hans Morgenthau, ‘higher prudence’ (Cochran 1983) should be regarded as the supreme virtue in international politics. This claim is based on a threefold argument. First, while Morgenthau rightly stresses the key importance of prudence for international political decision making, his own understanding of prudence lacks adequate ethical development and justification. Second, prudence in international politics must accept the ultimate authority of the ‘theoretical wisdom’ of cosmopolitan justice. Third, as international ‘practical wisdom’, prudence in international politics should accept risk for the ethically relevant yet non-basic values of national survival and international order for the sake of cosmopolitan justice, safeguarding only core national interests and values. Theoretically, higher prudence is a key concept of an international ethics that has advanced from political realism to cosmopolitan pluralism by including recent cosmopolitan insights.
    Keywords: international ethics, prudence, political realism, cosmopolitanism, pluralism
    Originele taal-2English
    Artikelnummer134
    Aantal pagina's12
    TijdschriftPhilica
    StatusPublished - 2008

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