Why Character Matters
Political Science Reviewer, Volume 42.2
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Political Leadership

How to Cite

Why Character Matters: Aristotle on Prudence, Charioteer of the Virtues. (2020). The Political Science Reviewer, 44(2), 353-386. https://politicalsciencereviewer.wisc.edu/index.php/psr/article/view/649


Despite the rich tradition of thought proclaiming the need for virtuous leaders, and the continued, widespread call for character in those who hold political office, both scholars and citizens remain puzzled concerning the precise relation of character to political leadership. Drawing on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, this article argues that prudence is the most important virtue for political leaders and that keystone for understanding all leading character. More specifically, Aristotle’s account of prudence in the Nicomachean Ethics enumerates the three “stages” of prudential action—deliberation, comprehension, and decision—that are the primary channels wherein the moral character of political leaders influences their conduct.

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