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Tue, Oct 20 | Stumberg Hall

Making Good Decisions: Two Giants on the Virtue of Prudence

oin us for a panel discussion--and an intellectual contest!--on Prudence. Dr. Erik Dempsey and Prof. J. Budziszewski will tell us something more about Aristotle's and Aquinas' definitions of Prudence, debating over how they differ and to what extent.
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Making Good Decisions: Two Giants on the Virtue of Prudence

Time & Location

Oct 20, 2020, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Stumberg Hall

About The Event

**This is an online event. To attend in person, please click the "Register Now" button and you will find instructions and information about attending in person.**

Following their respective compact seminars on prudence, offered to UT students and to several other friends of the Austin Institute during the past months, Professor J. Budziszewski and Dr. Erik Dempsey will help us answer these questions. They will discuss the philosophers' views and understandings of prudence, once more helping us to understand what it means to be a prudent citizen, and prudent human beings, in 2020.Aristotle claims that prudence is a practical rather than a theoretical virtue, and deliberative rather than intuitive. Aquinas follows Aristotle and claims it is practical wisdom. Both philosophers think that prudence is acquired by experience, and that it is among the most important virtues in life. It then sounds quite legitimate to ask, Do their definitions really differ? If so, to what extent?

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Marianna Orlandi, Associate Director of the Austin Institute.

About our scholars:

Dr. J. Budziszewski, Ph.D.

Professor of Government and Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin

J. Budziszewski (Ph.D. Yale, 1981) is a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. His main area of research is the natural moral law, in which he is best known for his work on moral self-deception – on what happens when we tell ourselves that we don't know what we really do know. Among his other research interests are moral character, family and sexuality, religion and public life, toleration and liberty, and the unraveling of our common culture.

Budziszewski tries to compose his scholarly work in such a way that it is accessible to general readers, and his work for general readers in such a way that it offers something to scholars. Representative of his books in the former category are Commentary on Thomas Aquinas's Treatise on Law and Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Virtue Ethics (Cambridge), as well as The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction (ISI Books).

Representative of those in the latter category are What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide(Ignatius) and On the Meaning of Sex (ISI Books). Presently he is writing a book about happiness and ultimate purpose.

Dr. Erik Dempsey, Ph.D.

Lecturer and Assistant Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Erik Dempsey completed his doctorate at Boston College in June 2007. He is interested in understanding human virtue, and the proper place of politics in a well-lived human life, the different ways in which human virtue is understood in different political situations, and the ways in which human virtue may transcend any political situation. His dissertation looks at Aristotle's treatment of prudence in the Nicomachean Ethics, and Aristotle's suggestion that virtue should be understood as an end in itself. He is currently at work turning his dissertation into a book by adding chapters which consider Thomas Aquinas' interpretation of Aristotle in terms of natural law, and Marsilius of Padua's critique of Thomas.  He grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and graduated from Hastings High School. As an undergraduate, he attended St. John's College in Annapolis, MD where he began to study the Great Books seriously. From June 2000 until August 2001, he worked for DynCorp in Chantilly, VA, doing mathematical modeling and providing other support for the GETS program. From September 2007 - May 2008, he taught in the Herbst Program for the Humanities at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

About our moderator

Marianna Orlandi, Avv., Ph.D.

Associate Director of Academic Programs

Marianna Orlandi received her Ph.D. in Law from the University of Padua, Italy, and from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Prior to moving to Texas, she was a 2019-2020 James Madison Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. She was admitted to the Italian bar in 2015 after graduating magna cum laude from the University of Padua. She practiced as a criminal lawyer in Milan and worked in the United States as a policy research analyst. Her interests and research focus on issues of life, and on its legal and international protection, in particular through the lens of criminal law.

About this year's theme for our programs:

Prudence: a Word, a Virtue, a Theme

This year, following the requests of our students, the Austin Institute has developed its academic programming around a common theme that will unify the activities of the semester.

The focus of our fall programming is on the most underestimated and yet most needed virtue of prudence.

Prudence will also guide our practical choices for our programs. All in-person and/or online programming conform to current health guidelines. We want to keep everyone safe while providing program opportunities during this pandemic.

Registration is Closed

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