Acton Institute Powerblog

Constitutional Cases and the Four Cardinal Virtues

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Should virtue be a consideration in judicial decisionmaking? Indiana Law Professor R. George Wright makes an intriguing argument for why the four cardinal virtues could be useful in interpreting constitutional cases:

Judges typically decide constitutional cases by referring to one or more legal precedents, rules, tests, principles, doctrines, or policies. This Article recommends supplementing this standard approach with fully legitimate and appropriate attention to what many cultures have long recognized as the four basic cardinal virtues of practical wisdom or reasonable prudence, courage or fortitude, temperance or reasonable self-restraint, and justice as the disposition to give everyone their due.

The Article illustrates the legitimacy and usefulness of this supplementary approach, with judicial attention being paid either to government actors or to some broader public, in a range of important constitutional cases.

Part of the justification for this Article’s recommended approach is drawn directly from reflection on the case law, but the Article also draws upon philosophical discussions of the basic virtues from many cultures in order to address a number of possible critical concerns.

(Via: Mirror of Justice)

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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