The argument between Jacques Maritain and Charles de Koninck over the primacy of the common good is well known. Yet, even though Mary Keys has carefully arbitrated this debate, it still remains problematic for Alasdair MacIntyre, particularly because of the role rights play in both Maritain and Catholic Social Thought. I examine Keys’ argument and, in addition, Deborah Wallace’s account of MacIntyre’s criticism of rights in Catholic social thought. I argue, in the end, that what Maritain, and in consequence Keys and Wallace, miss about the common good is its relationship to practical reasoning, and that MacIntyre highlights both that relationship and the role of the common good in human dignity.

About the Author

Jeffery Nicholas is an assistant professor at Providence College and author of Reason, Tradition, and the Good: MacIntyre's Tradition-Constituted Reason and Frankfurt School Critical Theory (2012). He maintains a blog at subversivethomism.com