Tom Hickey defines the “Common Good”

In the Irish Times today, Tom Hickey (NUI Galway) provides a useful reminder of what the notion of the common good actually means:

Opportunity to reclaim the idea of ‘republic’

… Citizens of an authentic republic are committed to the fact that they share a social and political community with other citizens. They appreciate that their own individual good, and the good of their families and local communities, is intimately connected with the common good of the republic.

Moreover, this common good is not a crude aggregation of competing private goods. It requires meaningful deliberative engagement on the part of all citizens, and participation. But this participation must be based on public-spiritedness, not on ambitions for the advancement of private interests. …

The phrase “the common good” is used several times in Bunreacht na hEireann, as a ground for limiting rights. In that context, in the hands of litigants and judges, it is often treated as simply a synonym either for a utilitarian preference for the greatest good of the greatest number or for the interests of the State. Tom’s summary demonstrates that neither view is correct.