Finding resilience through practical wisdom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Delivering resilience will require innovative systems-thinking skills of practical wisdom that go beyond
technique. Aristotle’s notion of phronesis as practical wisdom, which was largely lost until contemporary
thinking about virtue ethics, provides a basis for a modern interpretation. Resilience, risk, vulnerability, robustness and sustainability need to be set not just in the dominant paradigm of scientific/technical
rationality but also within a reflective practice that nurtures practical wisdom and questions ‘why’ before
‘how’. Practical rigour, as part of practical wisdom, is the meeting of a need by setting clear objectives
involving many values (some in ‘wicked’ conflict) and reaching those objectives in a demonstrably justifiable way. Seven elements in practical rigour are described. Two keys to delivering resilience are: (a) to
allow professionals to publicly admit that we do not know when we genuinely do not know; (b) to integrate people, purpose and (old) process through collective practical wisdom emerging from collaboration
and learning together
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages12
JournalCivil Engineering and Environmental Systems
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2015


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