Serving the common good
It is those individual and communal choices—from how we raise our own children, to how we engage with our local communities, to what we are willing to bring to our elected officials—that will ultimately create the cultural shifts and social movements that really do change politics in the long run.
What is missing is a genuine concern for the common good.
Common good vs greater good
More recent figures who endorse this kind of view include John Rawls and Michael Walzer Political morality may even require citizens to run the risk of losing their lives in order to defend the constitutional order against a foreign threat see Walzer ; Rousseau b [ 63—4]. Most obviously, citizens act in a public capacity when they occupy positions as legislators, civil servants, judges, prosecutors, jurors, police officers, soldiers, school teachers, and so on. And that commitment is especially attractive to young people, who are among the fastest-growing group in surveys who eschew specific religious affiliation. The common good is not a single project, product, or policy. Among those who endorse this kind of view are ancient philosophers, such as Plato Republic and Aristotle Politics , secular natural law theorists such as John Finnis , and most natural law theorists in the Catholic tradition. When a foreign power threatens the constitutional order in a liberal democracy, political morality seems to direct citizens to defend the order in a particular way.
The pursuit of the common good, then, enables the state to act as a moral community. Related Entries 1. If she were making consistent rulings just to cash her paycheck every two weeks, she would not be responding in the right way to her fellow citizens, who act for the sake of common interests in doing things such as voting, following the law, and standing ready to defend the constitutional order.
These interests involve a more extensive array of institutions and social conditions, especially when it comes to education, communication, and economic redistribution. Conclusion: Social Justice and the Common Good This article has covered the main points of agreement and disagreement among different conceptions of the common good, as well as a few central topics of concern.
Community and the common good
One type of defect bears especially on the case of a private society that consists of rational egoists. Our politics have become so polarized and increasingly volatile; and our political institutions have lost the public trust. Rousseau b , Adam Smith , and G. It is those individual and communal choices—from how we raise our own children, to how we engage with our local communities, to what we are willing to bring to our elected officials—that will ultimately create the cultural shifts and social movements that really do change politics in the long run. The disagreement between communal and distributive conceptions of the common good is perhaps the most important disagreement among different conceptions, and it raises some important questions about the nature of the political relationship. The first camp says that market society—i. Most philosophical conceptions of the common good fall into one of two families: substantive and procedural. When members of society reason in terms of their common interests in liberty and opportunity, they assess policies from a standpoint that does not distinguish between one citizen and another. So when citizens reason as the conception requires, they effectively give the interests of their fellow citizens a status in their reasoning that is analogous to the status that they give to their own interests in their reasoning. Subscribe Popular Among Subscribers. They also act in a public capacity when they participate in the political process, voting in elections and taking part in policy discussions in the public sphere Habermas ; Mill ; Rawls .
They need not consult with other citizens about these choices or make these choices as part of a wider deliberative process that involves other citizens.
Many contemporary issues in political philosophy revolve around questions about the market and the standpoint of the common good.
He further posits that the common good can be identified and implemented only by heeding the general will of a political community, specifically as expressed by that community's sovereign. Many social relationships require a form of solidarity among those who stand in the relationship.
But a communal conception of the common good directs citizens to set these interests aside and assess proposals in terms of how well they answer to common civic interests, such as the interest in national security or the interest in a productive economy.
Private property, as a social institution, serves a common interest of citizens in being able to assert private control over their physical environment, and so many conceptions include this institution as part of the common good.
Social cooperation on the basis of the difference principle does not embody the same kind of mutuality. Translated in Rousseau 39—
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