Mark Manolopoulos on the meaning of the greater good

May 26, 2015 — 1 Comment

In our latest  ‘Brown Bag’ seminar Research Fellow Mark Manolopoulos critically examined the meaning of the greater good.

‘The greater good’ approaches the status of concepts like ‘love’ and ‘democracy’: they’re ubiquitous and everyone has an opinion about them, but if we’re called upon to analyse them, we find it challenging defining them or explaining them, let alone theorising how we may foster them. Having regained some popularity (thankfully), the phrase ‘the greater good’ is bandied about as if its meaning is settled. But nothing could be further from the truth: not only is it contested but heavyweight philosophers such as Slavoj Žižek and Hans Sluga go so far as to question its very being. Such scepticism is a good thing: one of the aims of philosophy is to question everything, especially the seemingly obvious. Even more surprisingly, if we pay enough attention, we discover the kernel of a possible definition of the greater good in Sluga’s work.

Mark’s notes are available for download as a PDF here

One response to Mark Manolopoulos on the meaning of the greater good


    Congratulations Mark. I like the definition of “greater good” as “survival-flourishing”. It puts both a planetary focus (and Earth limits) perspective into the concept as well reminding me of the Sen/Nussbaum concept of “capabilities” – which include the fundamental rights and resources we must have to be able to flourish – and this brings in an important equity perspective. Thank you for your thought-provoking ideas.


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