Which virtue? Prudence vs Temperance

[image: Prudence (left) and Temperance (right), facade of La Rochelle city hall, Charente-Maritime (France), Wikimedia; this is essay #347 in the Philosophy as a Way of Life series]

The ancient Greco-Roman tradition recognizes four principal, or cardinal virtues: practical wisdom (also known as prudence), courage (or fortitude), justice, and temperance (but see this article by Matthew Sharpe for a list of the sub-virtues falling under each of the big four). These are mentioned by Plato in the Republic (IV, 426–435), and there is some tantalizing empirical evidence that they are near-universal among human…