The Common Good

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Noel, Thomas
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Series/Report No.
The Common Good
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We have seen that the purpose of the state is to promote the common good. It is not my intention to discuss the end of the state but rather to set forth a clearer and more complete explanation of the end of the state, the common good. "The position of the common good is clearly delimited on all sides. As the community of the state does not arise from the mechanical sum of individuals, so the common good is not made up of the sum of individual goods and benefits. . . . the common good is an independent flood of special significance, namely the perfection of the essential form of the state community." The common good is not the greatest happiness of the greatest number nor is it the good of the collectivity alone while the good of the individual goes unattended. Rather the good which we designate as the common good is the well-being of society at large. It is the good for all in general and for each in particular. For example, by the common good of a community, like our own Helena, Montana, we mean that for the residents of the community there is a good legal system by which their rights are protected, a good police system, whereby laws are enforced, a good educational system that satisfies needs for education, adequate church institutions to satisfy needs for religious worship, good streets, good roads, adequate water supply, adequate provision for telephone communication, adequate facilities for recreation, and so forth. The citizens of Helena are in a position to say the common good is sufficiently provided and safeguarded. Sow it is obvious that it is not government alone that supplies all these means of general and personal satisfaction, for many of the means such as the telephone system and some educational facilities are supplied by private industries or private groups. But it is the function of government to foster what is supplied and to supply itself what private initiative does not supply or cannot supply so well. It is the duty of the state to see that its citizens have those conditions by which they may live a reasonable life. Provision should be made insofar as it is humanly possible to promote the conditions under which the community as a whole and each individual can live a reasonable life.
Degree Awarded
Political Science & International Relations