Rights, Individualism, and the Common Good

Hal Baillie, Ph.D. will lead this discussion.

In traditional social contract theories, for example Locke and Jefferson, rights existed in a context, such as a God-created natural law. That context was both part of the meaning of the rights and gave them limitations. When rights became constitutional, they acquired a new and different context. They became human, social assertions, with historical and culturally based meanings, capable of being enlarged, multiplied, and molded by the temper of the times. While originally thought to be self-evident, rights are now the subject of cultural interpretation, thus the subject also of disagreement. This shift in context has reinforced the individualism inherent in rights and corroded the community’s ability to agree on a common good. This not only fractures the community (think race or guns) but undercuts discussions leading to global cooperation on urgent issues (from pandemics to climate change to genetic modification). How do we tame rights and identify a compelling common good?

This salon is a Zoom format.

Date: Sunday, May 16 at 7 PM
Cost: $5

If you do not receive a confirmation for registration, please check your spam folder. You will receive your Zoom link the Saturday before the salon.

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You can also register by mailing your check to

The Gathering Place
c/o Emily Rancier
300 Kennedy Creek Rd.
N. Abington Twp, PA 18414