Since the triumph of a business culture a century and half ago the businessman has been scorned, and so the phrase “bourgeois virtue” sounds like an oxymoron. Economists since Bentham have believed that anyway virtue is beside the point: what matters for explanation is Prudence. But this is false in many circumstances, even strictly economic circumstances. An economic history that insists on Prudence Alone is misspecified, and will produce biased coefficients. And it will not face candidly the central task of economic history, an apology for or a criticism of a bourgeois society.