The Danger of the “Common Good”

The Danger of the “Common Good”

In political debates among Catholics, you’ll frequently hear the term “Common Good” invoked. The U.S. bishops are particularly keen to appeal to the Common Good when defending their positions on issues such as universal health careenvironmental protections, or minimum wage increases.

Appeals to the Common Good are typically in support of government expansion. Usually this involves the restriction of the rights of individuals for the greater good of society. As the great Vulcan philosopher Spock succinctly put it in Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

But there are significant dangers with this conception of the Common Good. It can lead to vast expansions in the power of a ruling class while curbing the freedom of individuals and families. Is this what the Common Good truly is?

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