March 14, 2012
Wright on Constitutional Cases and the Four Cardinal Virtues
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.
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