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Law, Politics, and the Constitution

New Perspectives from Legal and Political Theory

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Edited By Antonia Geisler, Michael Hein and Siri Hummel

The fourth Yearbook of the Central and Eastern European Forum of Young Legal, Political and Social Theorists reassesses central concepts of modern constitutionalism between the poles of law and politics: separation of powers, constitutional review, and constitutional rights and obligations. Fourteen legal scholars and political scientists from the region contribute to interrelated debates in both disciplines. Two questions are particularly raised: How can the aforementioned concepts be understood? And: Which role do they play in current national and supra-national institutions? With regard to the second question, an essential part of the chapters focuses on current developments within the European Union and in post-socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe.
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The Common Good and Individual Rights

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Szilárd Tattay

Abstract

Paradoxically, even though starting from a markedly individualist approach, the modern counterparts of the classical idea of public good, the Rousseauian concept of ‘volonté générale’ and the utilitarian notion of ‘public interest’ both tend to supersede and neglect the individual’s will, interest and rights. To be sure, the original Aristotelian understanding of the common good also implies that in case of conflict the good of the community should take precedence over that of the individual. Nevertheless, in the classical way of thinking the public and the private good are seen as typically existing in harmony with one another rather than in a state of conflict. In this chapter I seek to elucidate the ontological presuppositions and conceptual premises underlying the classical theory of the common good which, in my view, allow to avoid both the reduction and the opposition of the common good to individual goods and rights.

In this chapter I will present, albeit in a tentative and sketchy way, the essential outlines of a concept of the common good which is meaningful, coherent, viable and at the same time compatible with the idea of individual rights. In doing so I will use the more comprehensive and traditional term ‘good’ rather than that of ‘right’, and I will rely mainly on the thoughtful analysis of ‘atomist’ and holist ontologies offered by Charles Taylor (see esp. Taylor 1985, Taylor 1997a, Taylor 1997b), and on the now classic essay...

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