Intelligibility, Practical Reason and the Common Good

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Jonathan Crowe’s chapter considers the relationship between three pivotal concepts in contemporary natural law thinking: practical reason, intelligibility and the common good. The so-called new natural law theorists, such as Germain Grisez and John Finnis, argue that there is a plurality of basic goods that render human action intelligible. The intelligibility of an action, on this view, is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for its reasonableness. However, the new natural law theorists have relatively little to say about what it means for an action to be intelligible or unintelligible. Crowe builds on this picture to argue that actions are intelligible or unintelligible relative to a context of social practices. This understanding of intelligibility, he argues, reveals an important connection between the basic goods and the common good. The common good, understood as the project of creating a society that enables all its members to pursue flourishing lives, not only facilitates participation in 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 human conduct.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Natural Law Theory
EditorsJonathan Crowe, Constance Youngwon Lee
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781788110044
ISBN (Print)9781788110037
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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