Is there such a thing as the Common Good, independent of the wishes of the individual members of society taken separately or together? If so, what is it and how is it grounded?
Answer: According to the imperative of Eternal Law, human’s nature is to pursue the best of capabilities. We, as humans are in a continuous process to reach to a moral and ethical standard that is of highest order. The purpose of reaching to such a high order is to guide humans to a just society where there exists a common good. According to the Natural Law, with the help of our reason, we do succeed in achieving partial common good.
The concept of common good has to be independent of the wishes of individual wishes of the members of the society. This imperative is valid because it is possible for individuals to have personal interests and they might treat others as means and not the end. According to the Kantian categorical imperative, a person must act in a manner that his/her actions are justified by the virtue of the universal law. Meaning if I do something, it will be right if I can apply universally to other human beings and it still is considered right) If something is right for everyone it is considered as the actual right). The categorical imperative of Kantian Metaphysics provide us with a foundation for the existence of common good. It also argues that the common good is independent of the wishes of an individual. The actions of us humans are defined by how they are perceived universally and not just by us.
As I said earlier, we can achieve only partial common good. The concept of Evolutionary Morality provides us with a view point that can explain the non-existence of a complete paradigm of common good. According to this concept, as individuals, “human beings survive and thrive under conditions of scarcity.” As a result of this individualism, humans develop a society where the technological, economic, political and cultural advancements only serves a few rather the whole of the society. Those who cannot and do not become a part of this process of advancement are left behind. Thus we cannot say that a common good exists that is independent of the wishes of the individuals. In fact there is still a general sense of common good present where people can see the society to thrive and advance but it is not by all and for all (not all of the people work to achieve the common good thought the majority may recognize it). Individual and group interest can well take over the existence of common good in their own interest. So the interest individual and groups may call it a common good but it would not be universally applicable.