Dear Prudence: The Nature and Normativity of Prudential Discourse

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

Philosophers have long theorized about which things make people’s lives go well, and why, and the extent to which morality and self-interest can be reconciled. By contrast, we have spent little time on meta-prudential questions, questions about prudential discourse (thought and talk about what is, e.g., good and bad for us, what contributes to well-being, and what we have prudential reason, or prudentially ought, to do). This situation is surprising. Prudential discourse is, prima facie, a normative form of discourse and cries out for further investigation of what it is like and whether it has problematic commitments. It also marks a stark contrast from moral discourse, about which there has been extensive theorizing in metaethics. This book has three broad aims. First, to explore the nature of prudential discourse. Second, to argue that prudential discourse is normative and authoritative, like moral discourse. Third, to show that prudential discourse is worthy of further, explicit, attention both due to its intrinsic interest but also for the light it can shed on the meta-normative more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages224
ISBN (Print)9780198858263
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • well-being
  • prudence
  • prudential normativity
  • normativity
  • evaluative
  • contextualism
  • motivation
  • realism
  • anti-realism
  • metaethics


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