What is the relationship between human rights and the common good?
Answer: We hear a lot about human rights in the modern world. I usually used to think of the concept of common good and human rights as a single entity but after reading the related course content, I have come to a realization that they do have a relation but they are not one and the same thing. Both of the concepts talk about the welfare of human beings and a mean towards a better society. But the concept of common good is a universal concept that implies that irrespective of the needs and justification provided by individuals or groups, the common good prevails. In other words common good is superior to the wishes of anyone. On the other hand, human rights does not imply that there should be no common good but human rights are nor defined by nature, instead they are defined by the convenience of specific societies. So we can argue that human rights are determined with time and might change but common good is predetermined and they are unalterable.
Let’s take the example of slavery as explained by John Locke. A society can argue that it is the human rights of its inhabitants to enslave others due one or another reason. Then the same society can make rules to make enslaving others legal. But from the paradigm of common good we can argue that to be a free person is a birth and predetermined right. No one can enslave anyone else due to any reason. In other words human rights can be twisted by political, economic or social motives but common good is fixed.