Outline for Collaboration in Ethics
PART I - GENERAL ETHICS
1. WHAT IS ETHICS - Hugh
2. THE GOOD - Hugh
covers UTILITARIANS, KANT, STOICS, AUGUSTINE, EUDAIMONISM, TELEOLOGY, AQUINAS
3. HUMAN ACT VS. ACT OF MAN - Hugh
covers PERSON, PERSONALISM, MODIFIERS of Human Act, Determinants of Human Act
4. NATURAL LAW - matt
covers RIGHTS, SELF-DEFENSE, OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE NATURAL LAW, CONNATURAL KNOWLEDGE -
5. CONSCIENCE - Paul
6. THE VIRTUES - Hugh
covers FOUR CARDINAL VIRTUES
7. SOME GENERAL PRINCIPLES - Matt
covers DOUBLE EFFECT, COOPERATION
PART II - SPECIFIC ETHICS
!. MAN - RATIONAL ANIMAL
a. RATIONALITY - Hugh
covers TRUTH, LIES, DEVELOPMENT OF INTELLECT
FORMING OPINIONS, SEEKING GOD
b. ANIMAL - Paul
covers, MEDICAL ETHICS, PRINCIPLE OF TOTALITY, ORDINARY vs. EXTRAORDINARY MEANS
2. MAN - SOCIAL ANIMAL
FRIENDSHIP - Hugh
CONVENTIONAL AND NATURAL SOCIETIES - Paul
FAMILY - THE FIRST NATURAL SOCIETY - Paul
MARRIAGE CONTRACT - Paul
SEX AND REPRODUCTION - Paul
EDUCATION - Matt
WORK AND THE ECONOMY - Hugh
PROPERTY - Hugh
3. MAN - POLITICAL ANIMAL
SUBSIDIARITY - Matt
STATE AS NATURAL SOCIETY - Matt
covers Hobbes, Roussea, Locke, etc.
FORMS OF GOVERNMENT - Matt
POWERS OF THE STATE - Matt
CONFLICT - Matt
covers war and self-defence
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY - Hugh
covers Community of Mankind, Environment, Extraterrestrials
Part I: Ethics in General
[readings: PAR 160 (all human activities aim at some good)
. PAR 160-161 (the science of the Good of Man in Politics)
PAR 161-162 (no more precision than the Subject Matter permits)
STUMPF 54-57 (Aristotle - basing ethics on human nature)
PAQ 184-185 (Subject Matter of Moral Philosophy)
HIGGINS ch. 1. The Nature of Ethics.]
[readings: PAQ 185- The Young and the Study of Moral Philosophy -
[refer to: Maritain - THE RANGE OF REASON ch. 3]
[covers PERSON, PERSONALISM, MODIFIERS of Human Act, Determinants of Human Act]
[readings - PAQ - 187-188 - What it Means to Act Voluntarily
PAQ - 188-190 - Voluntary Action and Free Choice
PAQ - 193-194 Good and Evil in Rational Agents]
[readings: PAR - 160 - 181 All human activities aim at some good - ethics and politics - precision - happiness as man's good - pleasure, wealth etc. - Platonic idea of the good - Good as final and self-sufficient - Current beliefs about happiness - acquisition of happiness - happiness possible in this life? - the dead and happiness ]
PAR - 235-236 - Three Objects of Love - Good, Pleasant, Useful]
STUMPF - 29-30 - Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics]
[readings - Stumpf - 49-57 - Augustine - Love of God as the Highest Good]
[Readings` PAQ - 190 - Ultimate End of Man is Happiness
PAQ - 191-192 - Perfect Happiness as the Contemplation of God.]
[readings - Stumpf - 41-48]
[readings - Stumpf - 58-74]
[readings - none - do something on Epicurus]
[readings - Stumpf - 72-91]
[readings - Stumpf - 92-110]
[readings - PAQ - 194-196 On Natural Justice]
[reading - PAQ - 192 - Moral Good and Evil specified by the End.
PAQ - 204 - 206]
[reading - PAR - 197-209 (supplementary - not on reading list)- Nichomachean Ethics, bk III, praise and blame re. voluntary actions, moral virtue and choice, deliberation and objects of deliberation, true good and apparent good as objects of volition, responsibility for bad and good actions.
covers RIGHTS, SELF-DEFENSE, OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE NATURAL LAW, CONNATURAL KNOWLEDGE -
[readings - PAQ 196 - 199 - How We Know Natural Moral Law
PAQ 199 - 200 - Synderesis - The Understanding of Practical Principles
PAQ 200-201 - Moral Rules and Natural Law
PAQ 254-256 - An analysis and definition of law
PAQ 256-257 - Are human laws morally obligatory
STUMPF 178-181 - Aquinas, the treatise on law.]
[readings- PAQ 201-203 - The Meaning of Moral Conscience
PAQ 203-204 - How the Morality of an Action is Judged
[readings - PAQ - 206- 211 Is Augustine's definition of Virtue Suitable?
PAQ - 211-218 Is The Will the Subject of Virtue?
PAR - 181-197, Nichomachean Ethics bk. II on Moral Virtue including practice, excess and defect, pleasure, actions producing virtue, state of character, the mean, particular virtues, extremes, difficulty of holding to the mean.
STUMPF- Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics 29-40
PAR 223-233 - Nichomachean Ethics, bk. IV, study of intellectual virtue, contemplative and calculative intellect, science, art, practical wisdom, intuitive reason - knowledge of first principles, philosophic wisdom, practical wisdom and political science
PAR 257-258 - Patriotism as a type of piety]
Part II. Specific Ethics
[readings - PAQ 218 - The Evil of Lying]
[readings - PAR 234-250 - Nichomachean Ethics, book VIII - friendship, three objects of love, three kinds of friendship, best and worst types of friendship, friendship's state, activity, and feeling, more on three types, unequal friendships, loving more than being loved and friendship, friendship and justice, constitutions, forms of friendship and justice
STUMPF - 161-163 - Plato on the Equality of Women]
[readings -PAQ 219-222 - A moral consideration of fornication]
Great strides have been made in the biological sciences as far as our understanding of the "mechanical aspects" of human biology. Theoretical knowledge about human reproduction has led to an increase in practical knowledge. As the philosopher Francis Bacon said, "Knowledge is Power". However, the increased ability to do things has not always been matched with a corresponding willingness to ask whether we should do certain things. The biological sciences reveal in detail one aspect if man, as a physical object and as an organized body, as an animal. Yet "by virtue of its substantial union with a spiritual soul, the human body cannot be considered as a mere complex of tissues, organs and functions, nor can it be evaluated in the same way as the body of animals, rather it is a constitutive part of the person who manifests and expresses himself through it." [note: Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Originand on the Dignity of Procreation - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] The body of a human being cannot be treated merely as a thing, but the whole person must be respected. The Natural Law is the collection of reasonable norms of morality that flow from an understanding of man's nature and purpose. The natural law cannot be conceived in a one-sided fashion. It would be wrong to conceive it merely as a set of biological norms. It would also be wrong to conceive it in a purely spiritual manner, as if man's body were not part of him. The natural law requires man to regulate all his activities, spiritual and physical, with a view to the purpose implanted in his nature by his creator.
With regard to techniques of artificial procreation, we must bear in mind two things. First, although mere physical life is not the whole of the value of the person, it is still fundamental in relation to all other personal values. Only a living person can grow in knowledge and love as a member of society. Second, the transmission of human life has a special character, derived from the special nature of the human person. It is not the univocal transmission of biological existence, but since it is the occasion of a new person's coming into existence, the biological parents are participants but not the cause of the human soul. The biological aspect of reproduction is the cause of an animal body, but a human being is more than a body. The human being has an immaterial aspect to his existence, as seen from his ability to engage in intellectual and volitional activities, and his freedom in regard to limited goods.
` We must also distinguish between what is technically possible and what is morally permissible. As Marshall McLuhan described it, we are often blind to how technology affects our attitudes and ways of life. We are too often led around like sleep walkers by technology, and accept the social effects of each new innovation as inevitable and morally neutral. Yet, just as a man is responsible for training his dog, so we are responsible for directing technological development and the application of technology in a moral way. Knowledge may be power, but power not directed by prudence results in chaos.
With regard to technological interventions in reproduction, the natural starting point for a human life is in the specific and exclusive acts of husband and wife. This is inscribed directly into human nature, and is easily understood. Right from its beginning, a human life is connected with an intimate union of the parents. From the moment of fertizilation, there is a new living being, and it is distinctively a human being. Within the protection of the mother's body, the new genetic code comes into existence and determines the specific biological characteristics of the new being that will unfold with time. Nothing new is added thereafter except for time and nutrition. From that very first moment, the new being can be treated as a medical patient, and from the beginning the new human life must be properly cared for.
With regard to prenatal diagnosis, the most important ethical aspect is the purpose behind it. It is licit if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus, and is directed toward safeguarding it is an individual. Prenatal diagnosis is not licit as a means of selection as to whether the newborn will live or not. For example, there are some ethnic groups that prefer to have a male child over a female child, where amniocentisis serves the purpose of determining the sex of the child, with a view to aborting female offspring.
Sometimes there are risks involved in prenatal diagnosis. In such a case the risks must be weighed against the benefits to the two patients involved, the mother and the unborn. A procedure is morally good if and only if it respects the embryo's life and integrity, and does not involve disproportionate risks for it, but is directed toward healing it, improving the condition of its health, or its individual survival. Medical research must refrain from operations on live embryos, unless there is a moral certainty that no harm will be done to the unborn child, the mother, and on condition that the parents have given their free consent to the procedure.
It is morally wrong to produce human embryos to be exploited as disposable biological material. In vitro fertilization can lead to other forms of biological and genetic manipulation of human embryos, e.g., feterilization between animal and human gametes, gestation of humans in animal uteruses, and even raising human beings as sources of organs for transplantation.
The embryo, as a human person, has rights. Every person has a right to be conceived and to be born within marriage and from marriage. It is wrong to separate sexuality from reproduction. First of all, there is the attitude formed by the widespread use of contraception, what may be called the contraceptive mentality. This might be summed up in one of the advertising slogans of Planned Parenthood "Having Sex? Don't Get Pregnant". The same attitude might be expressed in another slogan "Do you want to get pregnant? Don't have sex." It is morally wrong to attempt to obtain human beings without any connection to sexuality, for example, by parthenogenesis ("twin fission" -- the artificially induced splitting of an mbryo into two). The freezing of embryos (cryopreservation) is wrong, and it exposes the embryos to grave risk of death. It deprives them of maternal shelter and gestation, thus placing them in a situation in which further offenses and manipulation are possible.
The techniques for changing a person's genetic structure are developing very quickly. It is good if done for therapeutic purposes, but it is evil if aimed at producing selected categories of human beings, as in sex selection, or the formation of human beings uniquely suited to a specific task. This is the instrumentalization of the human person. We may remember Kant's formulation of the personalistic norm -- never to treat a person merely as a means, but always to treat the person as an end in himself.
With regard to technological interventions in procreation, we must make several distinctions. First, is the genetic material for the procreation from two people who are married? If so, it is called homologous artificial fertilization. If the sperm and ova are from people who are not married, it is called heterologous artificial fertilization. The second question is whether or the technical intervention is a substitute for the conjugal act, or a technique that serves to facilitate the conjugal act, so that the act may attain its natural purpose. Heterologous artificial fertilization is wrong for much the same reason that adultery is wrong. The natural bond between the child and its two natural parents is deliberately broken. In the case of homologous artificial fertilization, it is morally good when the fertilization assists the conjugal act, but when the sperm is obtained other than in the natural conjugal act, it is wrong.
Surrogate motherhood is wrong for the same reasons that heterologous artificial fertilizaiton is wrong. It is contrary to the unity of marriage and to the dignity of the human person in procreation. In the case of surrogate motherhood, in some sense the child has several mothers. There is the genetic mother, the gestational mother, and the adoptive mother. In turn, the state or the lawyers enter into the picture with their own interests, and are another mother. It would be contrary to common experience to say that there is not some bonding process that begins already before birth between mother and child, indeed, a child may even learn his father's voice inside the womb. The process of surrogate motherhood runs counter to basic human feelings.
The conjugal act has many dimensions. There is the procreative aspect and the unitive aspect. These two aspects or meanings are morally inseparable. In vitro fertilization means fertilization in a glass, that is, in a test tube. Homologous in vitro fertilization and the transfer of the embryo after a successful fertilization take place outside the bodies of the couple. The success of the fertilization depends upon the technical skill of third parties. What is more important, the success of the operation depends upon the will of third parties. In the in vitro fertilization, the very life and identity of the embryo is entrusted completely to the power of medical technicians. This establishes a dangerous principle, that mere technology is dominant over the origin and destiny of the human person. Even if one found the operation desirable, in real life, once a principle is established such as this, it will be carried out consistently to its logical and terrible conclusion. The domination of technology over the origin and identity of a living human person destroys at the very beginning the equal dignity of persons that should be common to both parents and children.
Medical procedures cannot be evaluated merely from a technical point of view, but also must be evaluated according to whether or not they reach their proper moral goal. Medicine's purpose is the good of persons, considered both as their physical and psychological health. If medicine is to be ordered to the integral and true good of the person, it must respect specifically human aspects of sexuality. The doctor is at the service of persons and of their human procreation. He does not have the authority to dispose of human persons or as God to decide their fate.
Perhaps it is easy to see how someone who wants a child of a certain type, or to have a child merely to amuse themselves and is not willing to raise them in a family is acting selfishly. The hard case, however, is that of the infertile couple who wish to have a child but are unable. The desire to have children is natural, but marriage does not give the spouses the right to have children, but only to perform those natural acts which are ordered to procreation. Even when procreation is not possible, conjugal life is not thereby devalued. Physical sterility may in fact be the occasion for spouses to involve themselves in other important services that better the lives of human persons. They may help other families with the burden of education, financial and physical assistance, and help the poor and the handicapped.
The conjugal society is the society of man and wife. The conjugal society following the natural course becomes the parental society. This follows from its natural purpose, which is the procreation and upbringing of children. To parents alone belongs the inherent right to educate their children. By nature, parents have a strong natural love for their own children. They have the ability to expend themselves for the good of their children. Children naturally look to their own natural parents for guidance over others. Parents have the exclusive and and inherent right to educate their children for the following reasons.
First, the parents have generated the children. Since the parents have by their own actions caused their children, the children in a special way belong to the parents. Parents are responsible for their own free actions, and children are the results of these actions. Since children are helpless, parents have the responsibility to see to their upbringing. Parents also have a natural aptitude for educating their own children better than anyone else can. St. Thomas compares the relation of the human child to his parents to that of the offspring of other animals. [see Pocket Aquinas, p. 219 - Summa Contra Gentiles III, 122- A Moral Consideration of Fornication]. Human young are not able to fend for themselves for a long time, and so it is morally necessary for the parents to stay together at least for as long as it takes to raise the young to the point where they become self-sufficient. In the case of other animals, the male and the female do not stay together, or stay together for a short time, because either the young are self-sufficient from birth, or the female alone is sufficient to nourish them. Human offspring require not only nutrition and protection, but also training of the soul. Where other animals live by instinct, man lives by reason, and this takes a long time and experience to develop. Children need the experience of both parents. They also require correction, when their desires exceed what it prudent. This especially is a task suited to a father. The long period of human development requires that the male stand by the female at least as long as the young are growing up. Thomas compares the family to a womb, calling it a spiritual womb, suggesting the family as a refuge where children can develop.
[reading - PAQ - 252-254 - Children and Parental Rights]
In a primary sense, the parents have the primary rights and responsibilities over the education of their children. The reasons for this are apparent from what has just been said. This is most especially true with regard to moral training. In this task, it would be wrong for a third party to try and supplant this role. Yet it is obvious that children also require specialized education in the context of modern society. Some parents either alone or with others undertake to provide a complete education for their children, and the results are often surprising, since they have much more control over the educational environment. Most often, however, parents feel that they are not adequate to the task, and so much of formal education is done by professional teachers. The teacher has authority, but it is a delegated authority. A school is an extension of the home, and teachers receive their mandate from parents. This is often forgotten today, and parents are inclined to abandon their children to the school system.
The state also has some rights with regard to the education of children. This is because children will become full members of society, and they will have to contribute their share to the common good. To this end, the state has an interest in seeing that children will receive the basic skills they need. The state can reasonably require that children learn reading, writing and calculation. It also has an interest in seeing that they have a proper appreciation and understanding of their civic duties, the institutions under which they live, and a knowledge of the traditions of their people. However, state monopolization of education is unnecessary and unjust. Aquinas recognized this, and expressed the practice of the Church with regard to those outside of it.[PAQ 252-254, Summa Theologica II-II, q. 10, a. 12 c.] In his time, the Church was the principal educator. Yet the Church recognized the primary right of parents in the upbringing of their children. The example given was that of the children of Jews. While upholding that children should be baptized and raised in the Christian faith, he was firmly opposed to doing so against the will of the parents. A son belongs to a father, and a father has a natural responsibility toward his son as long as the child does not have the fully developed use of reason. As long as he was under parental care, the child was to heed the advice of his parents. It would be contrary to natural justice that anything be done to the child against the wishes of the parent.
There has been a perennial temptation to see the family as the source of all divisiveness in society. Plato, in The Republic, proposed a state of philosopher kings, where the guardians would arrange all mating, and they alone would know who was the child of whom. The state would replace the parents, but all the members of society would then be merely organs in relation to the state. Plato proposed that in such a utopian state, all children would look on all adults as their parents, and all adults would be solicitous of the welfare of all the children. The abolition of the family coincided with the abolitionof private property. Aristotle criticized this view as running contrary to the natural inclinations of human nature. [Pocket Aristotle, Politics, bk. II] Everyone would say of everything and everybody at the same time that it was "mine" and "not mine", which would involve a contradiction. Men are not strongly motivated to work land which is not uniquely their own, nor are they mindful of the welfare of children that are not uniquely their own. Although the state should have unity, it should not be such an absolute unity as to abolish the unityof the family.
Aristotle's philosophy of education includes several points that are of perennial value.[Aristotle's philosophy of education is set forth in detail in Book VII and VIII of the Politics.] He recognizes that the state has an interest in education. In one way, the state is a different state with each new generation. Yet, if the state is to last, the citizens must be formed in the spirit of the state, educated in a way that suits the constitution. It is chiefly from the constitution of the state that the state has its permanence. The other point is that there are several different goals in education. First, a man must be trained both at the level of appetites and at the level of the reason. The training of the appetites, through the formation of good habits, comes first. Aristotle speaks of the training of the irrational part of the soul in this regard. Second, a man must be trained in the use of reason. With regard to the subject matter that is to be taught, Aristotle divides these into the illiberal (or servile) arts and sciences, and the liberal ones. The illiberal topics are those which are for the sake of work and business. The liberal arts and the theoretical sciences are those that are fitting the free man. Aristotle recognized that a full human life does not consist in work for the sake of work, but that we work for the sake of leisure. The free man should be educated not only the useful, but also in how to lead a good and full life. For this reason, as an example, he discusses the role of sports and music in education. Music especially is part of leisure. Philosophy is also part of the life of leisure. He does not question the idea that when a man has acquired enough wealth, he would spend his time in philosophy. The pursuit of wealth for the sake of wealth is actually a servile existence.
Aristotle thought that education should be under the superintendence of the state, but he maintains that young children are properly trained by their parents. The state should not swallow up the family. The state has a unity, but if it becomes so strong a unity that it absorbs and destroys the unities of the families that make it up, it will fail.[Politics II, ii 1263 b 36-1264 a 1] The best way is for the state to exist as a partnership, and education is the means that holds it together. The state as a multitude or plurality has members with different functions. There would be elements of education that would be the same for all (basic virtues, citizenship, basic skills), but the diversity of tasks in society require diverse types of education. [Poliitics III, ii 1276b 15-21]. In a democracy, the citizens all have an opportunity to exercise political office, and so a good citizen should be educated both to rule and to be ruled. A man cannot be a good ruler unless he has learned to become a good subject.
The modern idea of universal compulsory education arose out of the industrial revolution. It was promoted by the Utilitarians (Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill), and by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto. Jeremy Bentham proposed a system of education called chrestomathia -- an education in virtue and profit.[see Chrestomathia, 1816]. He also proposed a model prison system called a panopticon and common houses for the poor, all based on his calculus of pleasure and pain. The assumptions that made the industrial revolution possible were applied to all areas of human life. John Stuart Mill argues that knowledge is a higher pleasure, and thus universal public education would increase pleasure for all, the pleasure of knowledge. John Stuart Mill is generally supportive of liberty, but in the case of education he writes:
Is it not a self-evident axiom, that the State should require and compel the education, up to a certain standard, of every human being who is born its citizen? [J.S. Mill On Liberty, p. 94]
At the same time, he rejected universal State education as "a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another", and saw in it a danger that it would become "a despotism of the mind". The state could intervene if parents were unable or unwilling to provide for the education of their children.
John Stuart Mill recognizes the dangers in the state plays too great a role in education. There is a fine line between the state setting standards for education and actually becoming the primary educator. Thomas Aquinas had already distinguished between the two roles. The state has the right to direct the works of its members toward the common good. With regard to practical works, the state may employ a man to build a bridge, and tell him what kind of bridge it should be. With regard to education, the state may tell researchers to investigate some natural phenomena, or that philosophers should consider some problem, but it cannot dictate what the result should be. The truth of science depends on the way things are in reality, not upon the will of the politician.[Aquinas, Commentary on the Nichomachean Ethics, I, ii] King Canute, according to the legend, wished to make a point to his subjects, who had flattered him that he was all powerful. He put his throne out upon the beach, and when the tide came in, he commanded it to hold its position, which of course it did not. Whether the speculative or theoretical sciences should be taught, or where, is a matter for the legislator (or bureaucrat), but the legislator should not say what is taught.
Karl Marx also proposed that universal education was necessary. He writes in the Communist Manifesto, "Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc. etc." The educational system was in fact to replace the family, which Marx viewed as a bourgeois institution. The families of the working class had been weakened by the Industrial Revolution. Yet the fact that mankind is organized springs from man's nature, not from any particular socio-economic system.
The present state of education in our society seems to remain based on the model of the industrial revolution. Primary schools, high schools and many universities resemble nothing more than workshops and factories, whereas in the economic realm our society is already post-industrial. Not only does the new economic reality allow people to be flexible and develop in personalized ways, it requires it. Despite the evidence, some educators are so bold as to say "the home is the extension of the school" whereas in fact it is the other way around. The process of formal education is a continuation of the parent's role in upbringing their children.
[reading - PAQ 222-223 - The Possession and Use of Material Things
PAQ 223-225 - Credit Sales and Usury
STUMPF - John Locke - TWO TREATISES ON GOVERNMENT]
Work is a fundamental aspect of man's life on earth, and work presupposes man's dominion over the material world, which he transforms in order to satisfy his natural needs.[This section derived largely from the encyclical Laborem Exercens by Pope John Paul II.] Ultimately, the one who works is the human person, and this is the subjective aspect of work, and the primary aspect. Man is a being capable of purposeful activity, capable of self-determination and development. The objective aspect of work is the transformation of the material world that is the result of work, but work also realizes human nature.
In ancient times, people were divided into classes according to the type of work they did. Onerous physical tasks were done by slaves, and such work was considered below the dignity of free men. [Aristotle Politics I] Christianity introduced a new way of looking at work, since God having become man had become a worker. St. Paul emphasized the importance of work. However important work is, work is for the sake of man, not man for the sake of work. Work is not in itself an ultimate end, the end of work is always man himself.
From the industrial revolution, this truth was obscured by an economistic and materialistic approach to work. Work and workers were treated as mere commodities, with work being something that the industrial worker sells to the employer. Adam Smith himself foresaw that the development of capitalism, where entrepeneurs pool their resources, would also lead to the development of labour unions, where the workers would pool their resources. Despite the existence of trade unions, there is still the danger that work may be treated as in impersonal economic factor valued only in terms of production.
Economic liberalism served to promote the economic initiative of entrepeneurs, but was little concerned with guarding the rights of the men who worked, treating work merely as a tool of production. The liberals treated capital as the material cause, the efficient cause and the final cause of work. Workers united in solidarity regained their dignity, yet new forms of exploitation and injustice have arisen. For example, the educated, (the intelligentsia) have to some extent become a new sort of lower class (the proleterianization of the intelligentsia). Many people are educated for tasks which are not in demand, and there is certainly an increased number of educated people. Education has intrinsic value, but the educated may in many cases become a new class of "the poor".
Work is associated with a human perfection, or virtue, called industry. Work ennobles matter, and it does not diminish man's dignity. However, work can and has been used against man, in situations of forced labour. Industry as a virtue must be joined with a social order of work that does not degrade man, but lets him become more a man. Thus, the diginity of man as a worker is the first point of reference in considering work. The next important point of reference in considering work in society, is that work is necessary for starting a family, for sustaining a family, and for properly raising children. Finally, work is related to the larger community or communities. The goods that the whole community enjoys are the results of work, not only of those presently alive, but of the whole community going back in time.
Work is prior to capital. Capital as the collection of instruments of production is itself the product of human work, and they bear the mark of human work. In establishing the proper relation between work and capital, we must remember that man has primacy over things. Economism, which is based on a materialistic approach, is wrong in separating capital and work. A materialist approach to the social and economic question of work goes wrong in giving first and highest place to that which is material. The spiritual and the personal are put into a subordinate role in relation to material reality. It makes little difference whether this materialism is merely practical, as in liberal capitalism, or theoretical, as in the dialectical materialism of Karl Marx. Man is treated as a mere instrument of production, and man as the end that work and production should serve is forgotten. One result is that the people who do the work are different from the people who own the instruments of production.
The principle that work is for man, not man for work, and the primacy of man over things in the ethical order, the primacy of work over capital, may seem far removed from the practical workings of economic reality. Let us try to deal with these principles at a more concrete level.
1. Those who work belong to various groups. Some people are entrepreneurs or otherwise self-employed. Others depend on this group for employment.
1.1. It would be wrong to suppress the class of entrepeneurs and self-employed. It would be contrary to the public good for the government to usurp their role. They play a necessary role in society. Employers and self-employed people have the right to make a reasonable profit, and the right to manage their own business as they see fit. Special problems arise when the owners and the managers are two different groups. Owners who are far removed from thework may sometimes exercise rights without corresponding obligations.
1.2. The people who can live only by remunerative work have a right to employment. Most workers depend on others to make a living and depend on a wage contract. Justice requires that both parties freely enter into the wage contract. The employer must give a wage commensurate to the services of the employee, and the employee must provide services commensurate to the wages received.
The obligations of the direct employer and the indirect employer are different. The direct employer is the actual person or corporate person who is part to the contract with the employee. It is his responsibility to pay a just wage and provide decent working conditions.
The indirect employer is further removed. The indirect employer is a person or party that indirectly affects the employer/employee relation. The state is in many cases an indirect employer. Public works indirectly provide employment through contractors. Even a large industry is an indirect employer. Not only does a factory provide a living for a large number of people, but this in turn provides through the employees work for people in other businesses. The state has an effect as well on employment in other countries, through tariffes and other trade regulations, and this also extends the responsibility of the state. The consumer is an indirect employer, because his purchases affect the employment of other people.
The state and large companies as indirect employers do have a responsibility with regard to the right of employment. First, it should not take over the functions of the entrepeneurial class. Since they take risks, they should be free to run their entreprises in the best way. Yet it is the task of society at large as the indirect employer to see that those who depend on remunerative work can get employment. It is contrary to the common good, for example, that in certain segments of society large numbers of people have no work at all, for example, the high rateof unemployment among American blacks.
The state is in the position to correct this situation by making a shorter work week, minimum wage laws, employment training, and its own hiring practices as a direct employer. Consumers also can act in accordance with their responsibilities as indirect employers. For example, they could refrain from buying goods that were made under conditions of forced labour.
A just wage is a family wage. This is a wage such that the head of the household earns enough to establish and maintain a family, and make provision for the future. It should be enough that the parents may have time to properly raise their children. Since the mother plays a special role in raising children, the employment situation should be such that she be free to do so. It is one of the consequences of the materialistic approach and materialistic premises of modern enomic practice that the work of women in bringing up children has not been properly esteemed. The usual economic yardstick ignores their contribution to the common good because it does not involve a measurable cash flow. There are two approaches to this problem. First, we could use something other than a purely materialistic and economic yardstick, and this would involve a change in social attitudes reinforced by the media and education; second, the work of professional mothers could be mediated by money. The second solution would simply introduce a third party, the government auditor, and would solve nothing in reality, and is ultimately based on the same faulty premises that led to the problem of the status of mothers in the first place.
As regards working conditions, there should be sufficient rest from work. There should also be provision for injured workers, and retired workers.
The question of work is connected with the question of property. Private property is a right that is important to man's well-being, but it is a relative right, not an absolute right. All men have a right to benefit from the goods of the earth, and the right to personal possession is subordinate to this right of all to benefit from the use of the goods of nature. We may speak of the universal destination of the goods of the earth.
Property is acquired primarily to serve work, especially as a means of production. This production of goods in turn benefits all. To forget this universal benefit and suppose some absolute right of ownership for the sake of ownership, is to say that the means of production can be owned despite work, that they can be owned for the sake of possession itself.
Property and rights of ownership are always in the context of a society. Rights are maintained and respected by others. According to Thomas Aquinas [Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II q. 66 a. 2 in PAQ 222], there are two aspects to property.
The first aspect is the power to obtain and dispense of material things. Man has the power to possess things as his own, because this is necessary for his life. There are three reasons why property is necessary.
First, a man has greater care over that which is his own. Men do not have the same concern about common property that they have for their own, and would tend to run away from work and leave to another that which pertains to the commune. One striking example of this was the communal farm system of Soviet Russia. The farmers worked on common land in the kolkhozes (communal farms), and they had very small private plots as well. The private plots, 2% of the land, produced 50% of the produce. [Robert Ardrey, The Territorial Imperative]. Other animals have very strong territorial instincts, and apparently man does as well. Aristotle notes: "to feel that a thing is one's own private property makes an unspeakably great difference in one's pleasure. The universal feeling of love for oneself is not without purpose, but it is a natural instinct."[Aristotle, Politics, II, ii, 1263a 40-1263b 1]
Second, human affairs are treated in a more orderly manner if the procurement and care of a particular thing belongs to the individual. There would be confusion if each person took what he wanted without any distinction.
Third, private ownership leads to peace and preserves peace. The best way is that each should be content with what he has. This leads to a broader social issue. Property is necessary to lead a good human life, and therefore the state should enable every one to have enough property to live. The best state is one where the majority have enough to feel secure, but not so much that they may cease from working. However, the appetite for gain is unlimited, and some people will desire more than they need, to the detriment of others who have nothing. Laws restricting property are not effective in this situation, and Aristotle believed that the solution lay in educating people so that by custom men would consider it good to restrain their appetites for personal gain. [Politics, II]
The second aspect of property is the way in which they are used. With respect to the use of material things, a man should not regard things as exclusively his own, but as pertaining to the common good. When others are in need, he should share them willingly. If we consider the use of material things, nature itself, or the natural law, does not define natural things as belonging to this man or to that man, but the distinction of things as belonging to this man or that man comes from human law, added over and above the natural law. By their nature, material things are ordered to the good of men. Human law cannot change this. In extreme circumstances, if a person is in danger and cannot help himself otherwise, he may meeet his need from another's goods, whether openly or secretly taken, and this is not theft or robbery.[Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II q. 66, a. 7] In necessity, all things are common.
Work is for the sake of leisure, not leisure for the sake of work. We must distinguish between recreation, the aim of which is enable us to work better, and leisure, which is spent in doing things that are worthwhile for their own sake.
[readings - PAR 278-282 - Politics book 1 - state as highest form of community, components and foundations of the state,
PAR 282-296 - Politics book II - theories of ideal state, critique of Plato,
PAR 312-334 - Politics book IV - Aims of political science, other types of state, democracy and oligarchy, four kinds of democracy, four kinds of oligarchy, circumstances of variations in constitutions, polity, three kinds of tyranny, the best state,
PAQ 230-231 - Political Science as a Practical Science
PAQ 232 - Man's Dependence on Society
PAQ 233 - Different Kinds of Human Societies
PAQ 234 - All Men are Naturally Equal in Dignity
PAQ 234 - Despotism and the Government of Free Men
PAQ 235 - Polity: the Best Government
PAQ 235-238 - The Function of a Ruler
PAQ 238-239 - One Man is preferable as head of state
PAQ 240-241 - The Reward of a Good Ruler
PAQ 241-242 - Dictatorship is usually shortlived
PAQ 242-245 - The Characteristics of a Good Ruler
PAQ 246-248 - How a Ruler should Govern
PAQ 248-251- Public Positions and State Revenues
PAQ 251-252 - Why the Jewish People have Special Laws
PAQ 252 - May non-believers exercise political authority
STUMPF 187-192 - Hobbes, from DE CIVE
STUMPF 208-212 - J.S. Mill - On Liberty
STUMPF 208-212 - John Locke - from TWO TREATISES on GOVERNMENT
The state, like the family, is called a natural society. This means that the natural needs and inclinations of human nature can only be met if men join themselves together to live in an organized community under authority. One sign of man's nature as a political animal is the ability and inclination to use speech. Human speech in important ways transcends the power of other animals, which use various signs to indicate their needs and desires here and now. [Aristotle, Politics in Pocket Aristotle 278-282]. By human speech, men can impart knowledge and give advice, give orders and heed orders.
The state is called a "perfect society" because it its the finished state of human society, in which all of man's needs for a good and complete life can be met. The family is called an "imperfect society" because it can supply what it absolutely necessary for human life, but not more.
Another sign of man's political nature is that most men naturally look for someone to lead them, and some men have a natural aptitude to lead others.[Aquinas, On Kingship Book I, in Pocket Aquinas, p. 235-238.] Yet men differ from other social animals in that they will rebel against excessive and unjust authority, if they are able.[Aquinas, On Kingship I, x, in Pocket Aquinas, p. 241-242.] A political community differs from a despotic state. A political community is a community of free men directed by an authority that organizes them according to the common good, which is at the same time the good of all, and the good of each. Each man, while under authority, is still free, because he can use his reason to direct his own activities in the best way in his own sphere of responsibility. Those in authority have the "bigger picture", and direct men's activities in those areas where the good of society can only be achieved by organizing and directing the efforts of several men. Yet those in a subordinate role are still free to use their own knowledge and prudence while carrying out the commands of their superiors.
A political community is a sort of friendship. Men do not obey the law and those in authority merely out of fear, but out of a sense of the common good.[Aquinas, On Kingship, I, x in Pocket Aquinas, p. 241-242]. The government of a tyrant, on the other hand, is held together only fear and deception, and it cannot last forever. If the unjust authority is arbitrary, where there is no proportion between a man's actions and how the state will be treated, those who oppose the state will be all the more reckless in their actions.
The basic ethical distinction in the area of politics is between an authority that works for the common good, and an authority that represents only a special interest. Any form of government can either be good or bad, depending on the actions of those who are in power, so the actual form of the government, or the constitution, is of secondary importance. The basic forms of government, as described by Aristotle and Thomas, are three - the rule of one man, or monarchy, the rule of a few, called aristocracy if they are virtuous men, or oligarchy, if they rule for their own benefit, and democracy, which if good may be called a polity or constitutional government, but in its worst form would be a sort of mob-rule.
Monarchy is the rule of one. The advantage of having one ruler is that he is capable of acting decisively. The disadvantage is the fault of one man, if the monarch is not good and wise, can adversely affect the common good of all. A king is often thought of as a hereditary ruler, but "monarch" simply means government by one man. The analyses of Aristotle and Thomas can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to an elected ruler, one who ceases power by force, or by whatever means one man comes to power. Thus, in different ways, the British monarchy and the American presidency are both monarchies.
The rule of a few has the advantage that a council of men are in a sense wiser than one. The good of the people does not depend on the virtue and ability of one man. If the few who rule are good, the government is called an aristocracy, but if they govern for their own benefit, it is called an oligarchy. While aristocracy commonly designates the political authorities of Europe who receive their titles by heredity (count, duke, baron etc.), the analysis of Aristotle and Aquinas is also applicable, mutatis mutandis, to the bureacracy, and to elected officials. The english-speaking world in the last century deliberately imitated the Chinese system, whereby public officials were appointed on the basis of merit, whereby they had to pass examinations in order to work for the civil service. The examinations for entry into the civil service were open to anyone, so long as as he knew the classics in which traditions were expressed.[H.G. Creel, Chinese Thought, p. 11 & 16.] Certainly, a civil service that is based on merit rather than political patronage has contributed to political stability. One might say that the rule of a single party is also an aristocracy or oligarchy, whether this party is elected or holds exclusive power.
The rule of many is usually a form of constitutional rule. The constitution of the state provides the structure. Only in a very small society would it be possible to put all decisions before all the citizens and govern by referendum. In a larger community, this would simply lead to anarchy. A properly functioning democracy requries that citizens be formed with a sense of their rights and obligations. Justice requires that the individual look beyond his own short-term and individual interests to the good of others. Not only must he be concerned with the welfare of his fellow-citizens, but also the good of those who are not yet born. For example, a tribe of the Western New York area decides all things on the principle that in every decision, they should consider the effects up to seven generations in the future. The philosopher Cicero said that we plant trees for a generation that is not yet born. If the majority do not have a sense of the common good, the rule of the majority can become a mob-rule, and a form of oppression by the majority over minorities.
In actual fact, it seems that the best form of government is a mixed form.[Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II, 105, 1, c.] It will be a monarchy in the sense that there is one man who is in authority. It will be an aristocracy in that under him, there will be a group of men who share in authority. It will be a democracy in that any citizen may have the opportunity to exercise public office, and all the citizens can share in electing their officials. Such a system has the advantage that with a single leader it can act decisively, and he is both assisted and restricted by other elected officials. If the leader is bad, then he may be removed by the electoral process, without thereby upsetting the entire state.
Plato's Republic is the first and most important work in a genre called utopian literature. Plato presents the idea of a state in which all activities are directed in the best possible way by rulers who have received a special wisdom and enlightenment. The rulers are those who have attained the world of ideas. The entire state becomes something like a school, in which literature and music are directed to the formation of the citizens according to the ideals held by the rulers. Important matters are not left to the discretion of individuals, and so the rulers control the mating of the sexes, and the disposition of all property. In the Platonic republic, there are no special bonds between people, but all are equally the friends of all. There are no special bonds between parents and children, but all adults look with equal love on all children.
During the Renaissance, we find similar ideas expressed in Thomas Campanella's City of the Sun and Thomas More's Utopia. "Utopia" literally means "no-where". The common element to this work is a society governed by the principles of reason and science, in which the anti-social effects of human greed have been eliminated. Thomas More probably did not mean to be taken absolutely seriously, which is why he named his work "Utopia", but some of his ideas were applied in Latin America even during his life-time.[F. Benedict Warren Vasco de Quiroga and His Pueblo Hospitals in Santa Fe, Washington D.C. 1963, in Richard E. Greenleaf The Roman Catholic Church in Colonial Latin America, Knopf, NY, 1971.] Thomas More's ideal society was not as radical as Plato's Republic, in that family structure was very important, but it was a very organized society.
Thomas Hobbes (1896-1650) was an Englishman who lived in a time of civil war.[Hobbes, De Cive in Stumpf 180-192] He was influenced by his contemporaries, René DesCartes and Galilei Galileo. Like Descartes, he thought that the best approach to any question was a "geometrical method". Geometry, as in Euclid's Elements proceeds from self-evident axioms by means of proofs. Likewise, in Descartes' method, the thinker starts with perfectly clear and evident ideas and builds from them.
Hobbes starts his analysis by stating that the individual man is driven by the two forces of a desire for his own individual pleasure, and an aversion to pain. Man in his natural state is a solitary individual looking out for his own good. He has a right to whatever he can do, or whatever he can get. Hobbes here uses the term "right" not as moral right, but as an ability or physical force. The original or natural condition of man is not a happy one, but a state of anarchy called "the war of all against all" (bellum omnium contra omnes). This extreme individualism of man in the state of nature was also described as one in which "one man is like a wolf in relation to another" (homo homini lupus est).
Hobbes' description of man's state as the war of all against is derived from or resembles a remark of Aristotle. [Aristotle Historia Animalium, I, xxviii, 608b 15-25]. Among all animals that occupy the same places and get their living from the same things there is a war against each other. If their food is scarce, even those of the same breed fight against each other, for they say that even the seals living around the same place make war, male against male and female against female, until one kills the other or is forced to flee; and the pups also do the same thing. But if food is not scarce, the animals that are now frightened and grow wild would probably behave tamely both toward humans and toward each other. In Egypt, observes Aristotle, even the crocodile becomes gentle toward men who feed it. Thus animals, and men, are not always in a state of war or competition.
Hobbes picture of man's natural state also depended on a metaphor derived from the physics of his time, which pictured everything as atoms in motion, colliding with each other. Society was conceived as the sum of the conflicts of material factors. The ultimate unit of society was the individual, and since the greek term for an individual, or an indivisible unity, is atomism, Hobbe's view of society came to be called social atomism. Society thus conceived is made up of individual and unrelated units.
Out of purely selfish motives, individuals realize that the war of all against all must cease. Where each individual is free to do what he can, no one will honour contracts. Therefore, men unite and hand over thier individual power to a central authority, who thereafter alone has power. In this way, radical individualism is connected with radical totalitarianism. The state isconceived as a single man with awesome power, called the Leviathan.
Northrop Frye, the scholar of the University of Toronto, noted the effect of Hobbe's philosophy on contemporary attitudes towards abortion. Rights are conceived as mere expressions of raw power. If adults have the physical power to kill infants who stand in the way of their individual goals, this is the same as the moral power to do so. Social atomism, as radical individualism, denies the reality of any special bonds between people except for that between the individual and the state. The family becomes a mere collection of individuals, related on an individual basis to the state. They are equally social and economic units.
Hobbes philosophy influenced the development of economic liberalism. As a materialistic explanation of social organization, it also influenced Marxism. In both cases, human society and economic activity are conceived as a complex of material forces, and political science and economics can be sciences in the same sense of physics. Economic liberalism as the basis of a political system could be described as "anarchy plus the constable".[find this quote in Dennehey, Reason and Dignity]. In either case, the materialist premises fail to do justice to man as a person and as a being that seeks to live in society to achieve a common good. It fails to recognize that man lives for friendship with others.
John Locke, (1632-1704) was the first philosopher to systematically develop liberalism.[John Locke, Two Treatises on Government in Stumpf 192-200] His philosophy had a great influence in Britain, and even more in America. In his Two Treatises of Government (1690), he teaches that the purpose of the state is to protect the natural rights of its citizens. In this, we can locate Locke somewhat within the tradition of natural law. Human law is ultimately based on divine law, which is known by human reason. In turn, there is the law of opinion, what people generally hold to be morally good. Finally, the civil law embodies the law of opinion, and enforces it by the courts. If the state no longer preserves man's natural rights, the citizens may and indeed sometimes must oppose it. Locke agreed with Hobbes in supposing that men lived originally in a state of nature without society. He agreed that society is the result of a social contract, but this social contract was not a surrender of all rights and powers to the state. Men already understood moral laws and lived by a moral code, respecting each others rights, in the state of nature. All were aware of both rights and duties. Men are all equal and independent. A man should not harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions. Locke taught that private property existed before the organization of society. Property results from man transforming natural things by his own work, and this work makes the thing his own. Those who were industrious had therefore greater property. The right to property based on work also goes with a responsibility. The goods produced by work are to benefit all, and to benefit the owner. By trading the fruits of his labours, the owner boths prevents them from going to waste, and receives the fruits of the labours of others in return. Largeness of possessions is not wrong, but it is wrong to let them go to waste.
Government exists to protect men's rights. The only legitimate government was one based on the consent of the people. A government was then something like a corporation. It followed that hereditary monarchy was not a legitimate form of government. Tacit consent was enough to make one a citizen. If we freely decide to exercize our rights as citizens of a state, and decide to remain there, we are tacitly giving consent to the legitimacy of that state. Supreme power rests in an elected legislature, and those in power also are under the law. Real power rests in the people, and is only held in trust by elected officials, who may be removed if they act contrary to that trust.
Since René Descartes, French thought had been characterized by a tendency to reject the past. Each individual was to take his own clear and evident ideas as the starting point, rejecting all that he did not understand. Jean Jacques Rousseau [1712-1778] extended the principles of Cartesian philosophy to political philosophy. Rousseau said that man's natural state was one of happiness, where men lived in peace and plenty. Civilization corruped and enslaved man. Rousseau coined the phrase "the noble savage" -- an idealized view of men who lived in a non-civilized state, a view of the indigenous people of the European colonies that was both inaccurate and injurious to those people. He said that man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains. The chains are all the conventions and restraints of civilization. Rousseau thought that by shaking off the yoke of civilization, by means of revolution and a return to nature, man could return to a state of happiness, to the garden of Eden. His thought contributed to the French Revolution, and was influential in the hippy movement of the 1960's.
Another French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), further stressed the autonomy and freedom of the individual. Sartres posited that there is no God. If there is no God, then there is no nature. There is no fixed human nature, except for a consciousness of freedom. Man is condemned to be free. Since there is no nature and man does not have an essence, then man must create himself, and each man is responsible for his existence.
Now, Cambodia (Kampuchea), like Viet Nam, was a French Colony. Its leaders looked to France for ideas, and were often educated in France. Thus they were influenced by Rousseau and Sartre. In addition they were Marxists. While the individualism of Sartre and Rousseau might not shake the world, Marx's philosophy or ideology was aimed as transforming the world and man. Marx stated that up to his time, the philosophers had been occupied with understanding the world, but the point now was to change it. The Marxist position is that man's nature can be changed by changing society, creating a "new man".
The Khmer Rouge, who took over state power in Cambodia, consistently put these ideas into practice. First, since civilization corrupts, they called for a return to "Year Zero". The inhabitants of the cities were evacuated to the countryside, resettled and forced to work the land without tools. People who showed any signs of having been educated were killed. The Khmer Rouge were very consistently applying an erroneous philosophy of man and society. The American left reacted with disbelief and denial. Noam Chomsky, for example. [William Shawcross, The Quality of Mercy 1984, NY NY] The genocide of the Cambodian people had arisen out of the premises of their most cherished beliefs.
The principle of Subsidiarity states that it is wrong for a larger body to absorb the functions better performed by a smaller body. In the words of Pope Pius XI: "It is an injustice, a grave evil and a disturbance of right order for a higher and larger organization to arrogate to itself functions that can be efficiently performed by smaller and lower bodies ... Of its very nature, the true aim of all social activity should be to help the individual units of the social body, but never to destroy or absorb them." This principle has been stated in different ways by various philosophers. Aristotle states:
The reason for Socrates' mistake must be that his fundamental assumption was wrong. It is certain that in a way the household and the state should each be a unity, but they should not be a unit in every way. For in one way, if the state proceeds too far in becoming a unity, it will even cease to be a state. In another way, even though it may continue to be a state, if it comes close to ceasing to be a state, it will be a worse state, just as if one turned a harmony of several voices into a unison, or a rhythm into a single foot. The state, as it is a multitude, should be made into a partnership and community by means of education. [Politics, II, ii 1260 b 36- 1264 a 1]
Socrates, as presented in Plato's Republic, proposed a system where the state determined all aspects of social and private life, with some sort of public ownership, and with children belonging completely to the state. Within the state, people should play different roles, each doing what he does best.
One man doing one job is the most efficient way to get things done, and the lawgiver ought to see that this happens, and does not appoint the same man to play the flute and to make shoes. Except in a small city, it would be better for the state if a larger number of people shared in the offices. This would be more democratic and fairer to all, as we said. Functions are performed better and more quickly when separate than when in the same hands. [ Politics, II, viii 1273b 11-16]
The family is formed earlier in time than the state, even though man's nature and his needs are fulfilled and completed only in the later society of the state. The state is a "higher unity", and so it is prior (more important, earlier as a final cause) to the family. "Man is naturally inclined to form couples--even more so than to form cities, inasmuch as the household is earlier and more necessary than the city".[ Nicomachean Ethics VIII, xii, 1162a 17.] "The state is by nature clearly prior to the family... since the whole is of neccssity prior to the part" [Politics, bk. I, ch. 2, 1253 19.](note: prior and posterior, or proteron and hysteron, have different senses, prior in time is different from prior in importance, the state being posterior in time, but prior as a final cause in importance).
Thomas Aquinas develops this idea in two ways. First, a political community differs from an animal community, in that all its members are men, that is, rational animals. Social animals act only for the good fo the species. This is more true of eusocial animals such as bees or ants than of mammals. Yet a free man is his own master, and a man is not ordered by his nature to another man as an end. The end of the state, or any human community is the good of man, not the other way around. [Aquinas De Sententiis, II, 44, 1, 3 ad. 1, in PAQ p. 234]. The ruler should rule for the good of his subjects, not the other way around. Despotism describes a system where the ruler or ruling class rule over others as slaves who have no say over their actions. A constitutional regime rules over free men. While they are ruled, they still have power of their own whereby they may resist the commands of those set over them.[Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, 81 q.3 ad. 2 in PAQ 234]. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, commenting on the history of Rome, writes: "the truth is that only men to whom the family is sacred will ever have a standard or a status by which to criticize the state"[G.K. Chesterton The Everlasting Man]
St. Thomas describes a system of government that combines the best of various systems. A polity combines the rule of one (kingship), the rule of a few virtuous men (aristocracy), and the rule of the many (democracy). One man is leader at one time, with other men ruling under him, but it is also a democracy because the rulers are elected. [Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II q. 105, 1. c. in PAQ 235] The principle of subsidiary properly understood explains why we must steer a middle course between anarchy and despotism. First of all, anarchy, as a state where each man does as he pleases, cannot supply men's needs. Man is a social animal, endowed with reason, and he must live in a group. An individual man does not have the natural means to survive on his own. There must be some agency that takes care of the common good, since man must work together with others to live. A good political rule guides the many toward the common good of the multitude. Because man is endowed with a person, the individual man should enjoy autonomy in what he does best, though his activity will also be related to the larger goal of the common good.[Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I c.1 in PAQ 235.] G.K. Chesterton writes: "In short, the democratic faith is this, that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves -- the mating of the sexes, the rearing of the young, the laws of the state."
The principle of subsidiarity is exemplified in St. Thomas' attitude toward property. [Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, 66, 2 c. PAQ 222] Each man serves the common good best by having his own possessions, over which he will take better care than if they were held in common.
Aristotle sees in man's natural desires a sign that private property is good and in accord with man's nature.
To feel that a thing is one's private property makes an inexpressibly great difference in one's pleasure, for the universal feeling of love for oneself is surely not without purpose, but it is a natural instinct. On the other hand, selfishness is justly to be condemned. [Politics II, 1263a 40-1263b 3]
John Stuart Mill, although he reasons from different suppositions, maintains that the happiest state is when there is a balance of power, when individuals can do what they do best, when they have some scope for their activity. John Stuart Mill has a minimalistic idea of the role of government, in comparison with Aquinas. "The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or cellectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."[J.S. Mill, On Liberty, cited in Stumpf, 206] They both share the conviction that the autonomy of the individual is based on his rational nature. According to Mill, the government should refrain from interfering with its subjects when private persons could do a thing better than the government, or, even if they could not do it better, if they would develop and learn from so doing, and when too much power would accrue to the government if it took over the functions of the individual.
[reading - PAQ 258-259 The Community of all Men under God]