Since 400 BC

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Common good throughout history

Humans have placed value on the common good for as long as we have existed. It can be found in all cultures. It is a recurring theme in philosophy, ethics, political theory and economics throughout the history of Western culture.

3400 - 300 BC: ANCIENT GREECE
Plato writes in The Republic (Politeia): "The common good is the purpose and goal of the political community. In it the needs, interests and happiness of all citizens are realised through a virtuous and just life."
Aristotle writes in Politics: "In all sciences and arts, the end is a good, and the greatest good is, in the highest degree, the purpose of the highest of all, ie statesmanship. Political good is justice, and this, in turn, is the common good." (Politics, III, 12).

106 - 43 BC CICERO
"Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law."
(De legibus III, 3, 8)

13th CENTURY: THOMAS AQUINAS
In the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas coins the phrase: "Bonum commune melius quam bonus unius." In doing so, he makes the concept of the common good one of the cornerstones of Christian social doctrine.

1712 - 1778: JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU
In his main work, "The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right", Rousseau states that the sole basis of legitimate political power can only be that of the‚ "collective will" which always strives for the common good.

1946: CONSTITUTION OF BAVARIA, GERMANY
The constitution of Bavaria was accepted by a public vote in 1946. Article 151 states: "All economic activity shall serve the common good."

2010: "ECONOMY FOR THE COMMON GOOD"
After nearly two years of preparation, the Common Good Economy movement begins on 6 October 2010 based on the principles of "Economy for the Common Good" by Christian Felber. In 2001, Joachim Sikora and Günter Hoffmann had already written "Visions of an Economy for the Common Good". The title of the book "Civil Economy" by Stefano Zamagni and Luici Bruno (2012) is translated into Spanish as "Por una economía del bien común". Jean Tirole, French professor of economics, writes "Économie du bien commun" (2016).

2015: POPE FRANCIS
The encyclical "Laudato Si" ("On Care for our Common Home") addresses environmental challenges, economic systems and the question of social justice. The term "common good" appears 25 times.

2016: WELTETHOS-INSTITUT
Claus Dierksmeier, director of the Weltethos-Institut (Global Ethics Project Institute) in Tübingen, Germany, has ploughed through the history of philosophy and economics. His conclusion: "From Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas up to and including Adam Smith, there has been a consensus that economic theory and practice must be both legitimised and limited by an overriding goal (Greek: telos) such as the 'common good'." (Reframing Economic Ethics. The Philosophical Foundations of Humanistic Management, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, p. 35)