Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mary M. Keys & Catherine Godfrey
A common good, broadly construed, refers to anything of genuine worth or value that is sharable by many and conduces to the happiness, flourishing, or welfare of many. Politically, “the” common good has traditionally been defined as a just and true aim of political society and its government, laws, and policies. The common good was for centuries a central concept in political theory, especially from Aristotle's time and writings through the medieval period, and becoming especially pivotal and well developed in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Beginning with Niccolò Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes and the advent of political theory's modern period, the common good became progressively eclipsed by notions of individual rights, personal or group power and its maintenance or balance, and utilitarian notions of pleasure or welfare maximization expressed as the greatest good for the greatest number. This utilitarian thrust was most evident in, but far from exclusive to, ...