FALSE Definition of the "COMMON GOOD"

Dianne N. Irving
copyright December 27, 2020
Reproduced with Permission

Many in the younger generation don't know the recent history behind the fake utilitarian BIOethics created out of thin air by the U.S. Congress in their Belmont Report (1978/9) and the subsequent fake Communitarianism also using a fake utilitarian definition of the "common good". They erroneous defined the "common good" as "the greatest good FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER IN SOCIETY". That is, the MAJORITY in society get to tell the minority in society what is "good" and thus they must do it. But that violates and mis-defines the centuries-old classic definition of the "common good" which states that the "common good" must flow back upon the backs of EVERY INDIVIDUA L in society. This was best expressed by philosopher Jacques Maritain; quoting from my article:

"Here the common good is not defined as "the greatest good for the greatest number of people", but rather as those goods which all human beings, simply as human beings, have in common - e.g., food, water, shelter, clothing, friendship, etc. Maritain captures the stark difference between these two concepts of "the common good":

"The end of society is the good of the community, of the social body. But if the good of the social body is not understood to be a common good of human persons, just as the social body itself is a whole of human person, this conception also would lead to other errors of a totalitarian type . The common good of the city is neither the mere collection of private goods, nor the proper good of a whole which ... relates the parts to itself alone and sacrifices them to itself. It is the good human life of the multitude, of a multitude of persons; it is their communion in good living. It is therefore common to both the whole and the parts into which it flows back and which, in turn, must benefit from it. ... It presupposes the persons and flows back upon them, and, in this sense, is achieved in them. ... It is a fundamental thesis of Thomism that the person as such is a whole. The concept of part is opposed to that of person. To say, then, that society is a whole composed of persons is to say that society is a whole composed of wholes. ...[I]f the person of itself requires "to be part of" society, or "to be a member of society", this in no wise means that it must be in society in the way in which a part is in a whole and treated in society as a part in a whole. On the contrary, the person, as person, requires to be treated as a whole in society."

In Irving, "Which Medical Ethics For The 21st Century?" Linacre Quarterly , Vol. 70, No. 1, Feb. 2003; p. 7, ftnt 22, at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_02ethics1.html

Quoted from Jacques Maritain, The Person and the Common Good (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1972), pp. 50-58. https://www.amazon.com/Person-Common-Good-JacquesMaritain/dp/0268002045/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=Jacques+Maritain&qid=1608603511&s=books&sr=1-7

Thus, e.g., if certain vaccines help some, even a majority, in society but harm others who would suffer bad side-effects as well, the taking of such vaccines would NOT constitute the "common good" as properly and historically understood but only help a certain proportion of people in society. Or, perhaps providing legal protection for vaccine producers from law suits by people harmed by their vaccines might help vaccine producers, but such legislation would harm those people in society who have suffered/died from such vaccines. Or, perhaps using human subjects in research against their will might help some in society prosper with new products, but many others in that society would suffer bad side effects, even deaths; thus the use/abuse of human subjects in research would NOT constitute the "common good" as properly and historically understood. Or, perhaps legally requiring all who are riding in a car wear seat belts might protect many in society, but it would harm many others in society who have had major stomach surgery, etc., and thus would not constitute the "common good" as properly and historically understood. Or, perhaps requiring all members of society to volunteer in even high risk experimental research (as required in the BIOethics utilitarian principle of "justice", the Belmont Report !) might help some in society, but it would also harm many others in society -- and thus would not constitute the "common good" as properly and historically understood. Many other examples; can you think of some?


Given that the fake BIOetics has been around for so long now, it is critically important that people in society not allow themselves to be fooled by the starkly and unethical utilitarian demands it requires. While such demands might help some in society, they might also harm many others in society -- and thus would not constitute the "common good" as properly and historically understood -- and to which we must quickly return.