Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Mark Hoipkemier -- whom I had the privilege of teaching when he was doing doctoral work at Notre Dame -- has an essay at Public Discourse called "Where (Not) to Begin with the Common Good." Here's the summary:
The common good is the flourishing of a community qua community. Every community is built around a common end, which is simply that it excel, in justice, as whatever kind of emergently real community it is. The common good is primarily a practical idea, but if our starting point is too practical we are apt to miss the challenge that the common good poses to the modern political imaginary. On the other hand, a starting point that is too metaphysical will fail to engage the real questions of common life.
The piece is a bit challenging/chastening for me, because I have often cited and find appealing a formulation of "the common good" that Hoipkemier says is, well, wrong, i.e., the one from Gaudium et Spes: “[T]he sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” (On the other hand, here is a different Public Discourse essay, by our own Robby George, which embraces this formulation.)
I'd welcome others' thoughts . . .