The Common Good Project seeks to foster a discussion of the relationship between law and the common good. The Project will begin its efforts by exploring the common good from an array of perspectives.
 
Many legal theorists assert that law must be directed to the common good, but few agree on what the common good is. Even those who might agree on the same formulation for the common good have nuanced differences in how the common good plays out in practical relationship with specific law.
 
Of course, not everyone holds to the notion that law must be directed to the common good, and some legal theorists find the term 'common good' dubious in itself. The Common Good Project will also explore theories of law and society that deny there is a discernible common good or dismiss the common good as impractical or an imperfect anchor for law.
 
In relating law to the common good, the Project takes as its framing point a key criterion in Thomas Aquinas' definition of law as 'an ordinance of reason for the common good, promulgated by the one who is in charge of the community.' For Aquinas, a 'law' must be directed to the common good to have the character of law.
 
The Project will address questions such as whether the common good is focused on material well-being of individuals or ideals of justice, whether material conditions and ideals are one in the same, to what extent imperfect but well-meaning laws might be considered sufficiently directed to the common good in the context of constraints in culture and politics, and how the classical and contemporary notions of equity interact with the common good. The Project will examine the common good in drafting legislation, crafting regulations, judicial decision-making, the growth of administrative law, and foundational constitutional questions, among many others.
 

What is the Common Good? Conversation Series

The Common Good Project begins with a series of 'conversations' with legal theorists, law-makers, philosophers, economists, and others. 
 
The conversations for Hilary Term and Trinity Term 2021 will be a repeated baseline question: 'What is the Common Good?'
 
The Conveners will explore each guest scholar's view of the common good as well as practical examples of how current or past laws do or do not relate to the common good. A key sub-theme running throughout each conversation will be where the individual fits in the common good. The conversations will be live events open to members of the University and recordings will be available on the Project's YouTube Channel.
 
Convener
 
Co-Convener
 

Schedule of Guest Scholars for Trinity Term

22 April 2021 (7.30pm)
Assistant Professor of Law, Trinity College Dublin
'Constitutions, Property Rights, and Judicial Assessments of the Common Good'
 
26 April 2021 (5.00pm)
Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constituional Law
Edinburgh Law School
'The Common Good and the Commonwealth'
 
28 April 2021 (5.00pm)
Contributing Editor, American Purpose
Author, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World
 
3 May 2021 (5.00pm)
Professor of Political Sociology
Fellow, Georhe K. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
Queen's University Belfast
 
5 May 2021 (5.00pm)
Director, The McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics & Public Life
Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology
Christ Church, Oxford
 
10 May 2021 (5.00pm)
Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy emeritus
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 
13 May 2021 (7.30pm)
Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center
Senior Fellow, Abigail Adams Institute
 
17 May 2021 (5.00pm)
Research Fellow, Blackfriars Hall, Oxford
Author, Counsels of Imperfection
 
18 May 2021 (5.00pm)
Associate Professor of Political Science 
University of Notre Dame
Author, Aristotle, Aquinas and the Promise of the Common Good
 
26 May 2021 (5.00pm)
Professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy
Director, Institute for Ethics in AI
Senior Research Fellow, Balliol College, Oxford
'The Common Good and Individual Rights'
 
2 June 2021 (5.00pm)
Member of the House of Lords
Director,  International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute
'Reimagining the Common Good'
 
9 June 2021 201 (5.00pm)
Member of the House of Lords
Chancellor, Regent's Universoty London
 
TBD June 2021
Lecturer in Politics
Pembroke College, Oxford
'Chinese Conceptions of the Common Good'
 
 
Co-Hosts
 
Past Events
 
Adrian Vermeule, AB, JD
Harvard Law School
22 February 2021
 
J Budzizewski, BA, MA, PhD
University of Texas at Austin
2 March 2021
 
Thomas Pink, BA, PhD (Cantab)
King's College London
10 March 2021
 
Conor Casey, LLB, LLM, PhD
European University Institute
16 March 2021
 
 

Advisory Board
Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law
Harvard Law School
ACUS Council
 
Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Senior Fellow, Abigail Adams Institute
Founder and Director, The Wollstonecraft Project
 
Professor of Government and Philosophy
University of Texas, Austin
 
Max Weber Fellow
European University Institute
 
Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
 
Professor of Philosophy
King’s College London