Intelligibility, Practical Reason and the Common Good

Jonathan Crowe

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearch


The new natural law theorists, such as Germain Grisez and John Finnis,
argue that intentional human action is oriented towards a plurality of
basic goods. These basic goods render human action intelligible. The
intelligibility of an action is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for its
reasonableness. What, then, does it mean for an action to be intelligible or
unintelligible? This paper argues that actions are intelligible or unintelligible
relative to a background context of social practices. A theory of the basic
goods, then, is at least as much an interpretive theory of social practices
as it is an ontological account of human nature. This understanding of
intelligibility reveals an important connection between the basic goods
and the common good. The common good, understood as the project of
creating a social environment that offers a wide and generally accessible
array of modes of human flourishing, not only facilitates pursuit of the basic
goods, but makes the goods possible. It does this by creating a context
within which judgments can be made about the intelligibility of intentional
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
EventAustralasian Society of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference 2018 - Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 6 Jul 20188 Jul 2018


ConferenceAustralasian Society of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleASLP 2018
CityGold Coast
OtherThe ASLP welcomes philosophical or theoretically-oriented papers from any field of legal inquiry. The aim of the ASLP Conference is to provide a forum for the discussion and debate of a range of issues in legal theory, broadly defined. It is by no means restricted to analytic legal philosophy, and we strongly encourage the involvement of participants from other disciplines and the inclusion of topics from outside mainstream legal theory.
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