Individual Liberty and the Common Good Aren’t in Tension

A volunteer with Highpoint Charitable Services registers families as they wait in line for donations at a food bank in LaGrange, Ky., April 13, 2020. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)
A range of individual gifts can help strengthen and succor a community ravaged by catastrophe.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE S ome people today are inclined to pose an opposition between the “common good” and individual liberty. There may sometimes be tension between attending to the good of the whole and allowing a range of individual choices, but personal liberty can itself contribute to the common good, as the response to COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies.

The American response to this pandemic has involved a massive exertion of state power at all levels — from state and local closures of businesses to travel bans to the invocation of the Defense Production Act. However, as Michael Brendan Dougherty has noted, this response has also slashed

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