What does common good mean

Common good

The complexity of the term common good makes it difficult to define simple and catchy definitions. Every policy refers to the common good.

From a philosophical point of view, it is argued that man can only experience his incarnation through community (social nature of man). Common goals and values ​​establish communities and identities right up to the state. Since the common good depends on value systems, ideological elements are also connected with it.

The common good stands for the general good of the whole and affects the overall interest of a community, society or, in the most extreme case, that of the global community as a whole and assumes a consensus on goals, means and ways. However, it is often overlooked that there are diverse interests and goals in plural and open societies. Therefore, its content determination is always dependent on it and therefore difficult.

It is questionable whether the common good is simply the sum of the individual interests or whether it has its own quality. Determining the common good ex ante can lead to the tutelage of free people. The question always arises as to whether political measures really serve the common good in the end.

Liberalism sees the realization of individual freedom as the best contribution to the common good, which is the greatest possible happiness for the greatest possible number of people. Self-interest and the common good are therefore not mutually exclusive here; rather, the pursuit of one's own interests by the "invisible hand" (Adam Smith) ultimately also leads to the common good. According to liberal views (John Locke), the common good only emerges when the political will is formed (competition theory). The common good therefore requires political participation in a state community. While closed societies are based on a worldview that is binding on everyone, in open societies the common good is only the result of a dynamic and plural process of will-formation; Existing is checked and new things can develop.

On the other hand, socialism strived for the common good through solidarity-based realization of social justice, which required class struggle and the abolition of private property in order to create a classless society.

For Catholic social doctrine, the common good - based on the legal principle of subsidiarity and on a constant interrelationship with the individual good - is a necessary good of the community that stands above all conflicting interests and social conflicts. According to this, the common good, like the individual good, is a so-called "service value" (Nell-Breuning), ie not a value in itself; but it never precedes an individual good.

Certainly, critical arguments can also be used against the concept of the common good: rule can be exercised with reference to the common good and citizens with differing ideas can be marginalized. Social conflicts can arise between marginalized groups and the majority of the citizens. If interests are not sufficiently organized, their influence on the decision-making process is usually only minor. It therefore depends more and more on the way in which political decision-making processes take place.

Especially against the background of the globalization of the economy and the change in structure and values, more and more common good is demanded and the social market economy and market mechanisms are denied the ability to adequately serve the common good. The strengthening of civil society is therefore called for, i.e. the members of society should increasingly turn to their neighbors and take on co-responsibility by helping to shape it. Companies are also calling for a stronger voluntary commitment to the common good - regardless of the fact that a large number of small and medium-sized companies as well as a number of large companies are committed to society as part of the exercise of "corporate social responsibility".

The implementation of the common good has long since ceased to be the task of the state alone, but increasingly the goal of non-governmental organizations in the intermediate sector. At the municipal level, too, people and their free engagement are being advertised more and more. Ultimately, the financial crisis of the welfare state also led to a redefinition of social policy and this also redefined the subsidiarity principle. In addition to the renaissance of the associations, which largely dominate the socio-political terrain, self-help concepts known from the post-war period and development aid are increasingly being used and based on existing (citizen) initiatives and associations. Institutions of this "third sector" between market and state can also be understood as subsidiary "non-market social institutions". They arise (sometimes spontaneously) because the market does not adequately satisfy all needs or certain goods and services are provided by non-profit rather than profit-oriented organizations. They contribute to the fact that free markets function despite their imperfection and can be seen as a necessary framework for the free development of the individual. This applies primarily to all those who are more or less prevented from participating in the market process. This sector is therefore undoubtedly an important resource for the development of individual freedom, improvement and a "fair" distribution of "living conditions". (Me)