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Rivista di etica e scienze sociali / Journal of Ethics & Social Sciences




Human development is the central aim of all social, political and economic systems. This has recently been made particularly clear with regard to developing economies, but it is no less true ofpdf advanced economies, even if we do not often think about them in these terms. In this paper we want to ask two main questions: 

  • What does human development consist of on a global level, in both developing and advanced economies?
  • How can genuine human development be fostered in our rapidly globalising world in a way that respects the different social and cultural systems that are to be found within it?

In the Christian social tradition (hereafter referred to as «Cst»), human development is regarded as integrally connected to the common good. In this tradition, therefore, globalising human development is inextricably linked to understanding and promoting the global common good. In this paper, we will compare the answers to our two basic questions from the Cst with those that come out of the Human Development Reports (hereafter referred to as «HDR’s»). These two analyses largely deal with the first question, as far as is possible within the confines of this paper. To address the second question, the paper then draws on the book Managing As If Faith Mattered to show one way of promoting human development as understood within the Cst, in the context of the business organisation. This is a consciously simple model to help managers and other decision-makers focus on what is crucial in the promotion of the common good and therefore in the promotion of human development. This «common good» model is devised as a direct alternative to the shareholder and stakeholder models of a business, both of which usually form part of the business curriculum of any business school 1. In the sense that it does not prescribe more than a framework for decision-making, the common good model is open to incorporating different cultural approaches and insights and is therefore globally applicable. It is certainly more culturally sensitive than the shareholder model, and arguably also so with regard to the stakeholder version. Furthermore, since the common good is a term that can be translated into several different cultures and religious traditions, it has further potential for providing the basis for globalising human development 2. Although this model is aimed primarily at businesses, it would also be useful in other kinds of organisation or institution. Finally, since businesses are crucial to the development both of products and services and to the human development of those who work within them, a model that helps managers to promote the common good in their daily activities could make a significant contribution to globalising human development.

Three terms in the Christian Social Tradition: Human Person, Human Development, Common Good

To understand the relation between human development and the common good in the Cst, one needs to look first at the relation between the human person and the common good. Particularly in the writings of Jacques Maritain, it is clear that these two terms imply each other, or in other words, that the human person and the common good are two sides of the same coin. There is no genuine common good except among human persons. As Maritan puts it: «the common good is common because it is received in persons, each of whom is a mirror of the whole. Among the bees there is a public good, namely, the good functioning of the hive, but not a common good, that is, a good received and communicated» 3. Therefore, between the common good and the person there is «reciprocal subordination» and «mutual implication» 4. This is crucial because it emphasises that there is no fundamental conflict between the realisation of my own good and that of the communities to which I belong. For it to be possible for me to realise my own good, I need to orient my activities towards the good of the whole.

The idea of «person» comes out of early Christian theology, where Christian thinkers had to struggle to understand how God could be both one and yet also three5. Once the idea of person had been formulated in relation to God, it was possible, later, to apply it to human beings, made in the «image and likeness of God» (Genesis 1:27). If we remember that the idea of person applies primarily to God and only secondarily to us, it is not difficult to see that the common good and the person imply each other because persons by nature tend towards communion with each other. In the case of the Trinity, this communion is perfect, since the members of the Trinity constitute pure persons; in our case, this communion is imperfect since we are not pure spirit and therefore to some extent we always remain «individuated» through our physical bodies. However, our materiality and limitedness also provide another reason for our need of each other. Maritain sums up the two reasons for our need for communion with others thus:
«But why is it that the person, as person, seeks to live in society? It does so, first, because of its very perfections, as person, and its inner urge to the communications of knowledge and love which require relationship with other persons. In its radical generosity, the human person tends to overflow into social communications in response to the law of superabundance inscribed in the depths of being, life, intelligence and love. It does so secondly because of its needs or deficiencies, which derive from its material individuality» 6.

It is useful here to point out the importance of the distinction between «person» and «individual». We are each individuals of the species homo sapiens sapiens. In so far as our wellbeing depends on the species, we can be considered as an individual «part» of the species. We share this aspect of existence with animals. So, from the point of view of our materiality, our physical belonging to an animal species, we are «part» of a greater «whole» and therefore, our good can be subordinated to the good of the whole. However, each of us is, at all times, not only an individual but also a person made «in the image and likeness of God» with an eternal destiny. On this point, Maritain says:

«From this point of view, . . . both society itself and its common good are indirectly subordinated to the perfect accomplishment of the person and its supra-temporal aspirations as to an end of another order – an end which transcends them. A single human soul is worth more than the whole universe of material goods. There is nothing higher than the immortal soul, save God. With respect to the eternal destiny of the soul, society exists for each person and is subordinated to it» 7.

If we now move from thinking about the relation «human person – common good» to that of «human development – common good», we could look first at the understanding of human development put forward in the encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (hereafter referred to as SRS). SRS is important because it contains a chapter entitled «Authentic Human Development» which includes seven main points 8: 

  • Development is not automatic or limitless – it depends on the free use of human abilities and human will. In this sense, development is to be distinguished from the idea of «progress» and from a «naïve mechanistic optimism». The events of the 20th century have largely transformed such optimism into a «well-founded anxiety for the fate of humanity» 9.
  • Accumulation of goods is not enough for the realisation of human happiness 10. Technological benefits do not automatically bring about freedom from slavery. What we see in the world today is the co-existence of underdevelopment and «superdevelopment», the latter being the «excessive availability of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups». Both underdevelopment and superdevelopment are «contrary to what is good and to true happiness». The latter easily makes people slaves of possession or of immediate gratification and leaves them radically dissatisfied, both because material wants can never be satisfied and because deeper wants go unsatisfied or stifled. What happens in both cases is that «having» is taking away from being. In the case of underdevelopment, this occurs because people do have enough in order to develop themselves to their full potential; in the case of superdevelopment, it occurs because having too much blinds human beings to the other, deeper dimensions of development. There is an «ordered hierarchy» of goods in which economic goods have their place. Development includes the economic dimension, but is not limited to it. If we do limit development to its economic dimension «it [development] turns against those whom it is meant to benefit» 11.
  • It is important to welcome new innovations, new goods and the new opportunities to which they give rise. These are a gift from God and a fruit of human endeavour. However, our creation and use of these goods needs to be subordinated to our divine likeness and to our vocation to immortality. According to the creation story of genesis, when we are given authority over the rest of the created order we are at the same time subjected to the authority of God. Development is a modern expression of the essential dimension of the human vocation to have dominion over created things and to «cultivate the garden» in community and in a framework of obedience to God. When our obedience to God is lost, nature also rebels against our dominion over it. We still have dominion over created things and still have the vocation to «cultivate the garden» but this is now done with much suffering. Nevertheless, human history is one of «constant achievements» and anyone who renounces his or her role in working for development and for these achievements is shirking his or her duty.
  • The coming of Christ brings with it a new kind of «progress» in which our sin is conquered and, through faith in him, we can look forward to something far greater than the old kind of progress could have achieved. In the Church Fathers, one can often find an optimistic reading of history because of this aspect of the coming of Christ, and in the light of this, the Church and all human communities are obliged to help those who are suffering so that they may be lifted out of their misery.
  • We share together, as a human community and not just as individuals, the duty to work for development.
  • Human rights are an integral part of development, since development itself has a moral character. Solidarity and freedom are also closely linked to development.
  • Our dominion over created things is not absolute, but bounded by our obedience to God. As a result, we must respect the natural order, especially as regards non-renewable resources and the pollution of the environment.

On the basis of SRS, then, we see that human responsibility and freedom are the driving forces behind development; that material goods need to be ordered to the spiritual or complete development of the human person and of peoples; that working towards development is part of our fundamental nature as human beings, created by God and redeemed by Christ; that the social aspect of the human person is intrinsic to this development, as is the respect of human rights, and that all development must respect the limits of the natural world. A subsequent encyclical of John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (1991), picks up some of these elements, and develops others more fully, especially the importance of private property, of trade unions and the role of the firm in promoting human development, to which we will return below. It is clear in these documents that problems with human development exist in the advanced economies as much as in the developing ones. The key to understanding development is to understand its ordering of economic activity and material goods to the spiritual and transcendental vocation of the human person, so that the former really contribute to integral and thus complete human development. We understand the transcendental dimension of the person by referring to the religious traditions of which we are a part. Thus, although SRS does not explicitly use the term «common good», it directly connects us to common good thinking through the idea of ordering economic goods to the higher goods of the person. We will see more on this when we look at the model for the mission and purpose of the business developed in Managing As If Faith Mattered.

Human Development in the HDR series

Since 1990, the UNDP has been publishing a yearly «Human Development Report» (HDR) to focus governments and policy makers on human development itself. Until this series of reports began, economic growth had usually been seen as the sign of a country’s health and the measure of its development. The launching of the «Human Development Report» series is a very important step forward, since it has already started to put human development at the centre of the development agenda. These reports constantly emphasise what the Christian social tradition also wants to emphasise: economic gain is only an instrumental or foundational good towards the gain of the excellent or intrinsic goods of human development: «Men, women and children must be the centre of attention –with development woven around people, not people around development» 12. The main aim of the reports is to change the focus from economic development towards human development as the criteria for evaluating progress in development and in the work of agencies such as the UNDP. Great efforts are therefore being made to move away from a univocal idea about development, in which purely foundational goods are important, towards the idea of human-centred development, where economic goods are valued in so far as they contribute to the intrinsic or excellent goods of human development.

One of the important innovations brought about by this series of reports is the creation of several indices, the most famous of which is the «Human Development Index» (HDI). The idea behind the HDI was to create a simple measure that could challenge the widespread use of GDP as the measure of the health of an economy. The HDI has been gradually refined over the years of the report, but it has always included variables based on income, on life expectancy and on education. The initiators of the HDR were concerned that measuring aggregate economic growth, as does the GDP, was a poor and often misleading measure of the effect such growth has on the general well-being of the population, but that the idea of a simple measure was attractive to policy makers and others in focusing attention on an issue. The simplicity of the GDP measure had to be challenged by another simple measure that would do the same thing for human development as GDP does for economic development. The Human Development Reports are thus important in challenging the hegemony of the economic mindset in dealing with development questions. The question thus nneds to be asked: what vision of human development do the HDR’s put forward?

In order to answer this question, we need to look at the definition(s) of human development used in the series of reports. For the most extensive discussion of the nature of human development, one needs to turn to the first HDR published in 1990. Here, the authors needed to demonstrate as clearly as possible what they meant by the term «human development». As the quotations below show, there was some uncertainty about the meaning of the term, which may have reflected differences of opinion among the report researchers and drafters.

The opening of the report overview (and thus the first thing anyone would read in it) goes thus:

This report is about people – and about how development enlarges their choices. It is about more than GNP growth . . . A person’s access to income may be one of the choices but it is not the sum total of human endeavour.

The text of the overview of the report continues thus:

Human development is a process of enlarging people’s choices. The most critical of these wide-ranging choices are to live a long and healthy life, to be educated and to have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living. Additional choices include political freedom, guaranteed human rights and personal self-respect.

                Development enables people to have these choices.

In chapter 1, under the subtitle «Defining Human Development» we are told:

Human development is a process of enlarging people’s choices. The most critical ones are to lead a long and healthy life, to be educated and to enjoy a decent standard of living. Additional choices include political freedom, guaranteed human rights and self-respect – what Adam Smith called the ability to mix with others without being «ashamed to appear in publick».

Finally, in a box entitled «Human development defined» (p.10), we find first of all a definition similar to those we have above, and then the following:

Human development has two sides: the formation of human capabilities – such as improved health, knowledge and skills – and the use people make of their acquired abilities – for leisure, productive purposes or being active in cultural, social and political affairs. If the scales of human development do not finely balance the two sides, considerable human frustration may result.

This is picked up in the main text again where it is said:

The term human development here denotes both the process of widening people’s choices and the level of their achieved well-being. It also helps to distinguish clearly between two sides of human development. One is the formation of human capabilities, such as improved health or knowledge. The other is the use that people make of their acquired capabilities, for work or leisure.

The writers of the report then go on to show how this approach to human development is superior to several others, such as theories of human capital formation, human welfare approaches or the basic needs approach. In the first case, human beings are viewed as means rather than as ends; in the second case, people are looked at more as passive recipients of development rather than as active participants; in the third case, the focus is on the provision of basic goods to deprived populations, «rather than on the issue of human choices» (p.11).

What emerges from these definitions? Four points at least can be made.

1.  The primary and central element of the definition of human development is that of «choice». Human development is a «process» that «enlarges» choices.

2.  Some «choices» are treated as «critical»: to live a long and healthy life; to be educated; to be able to live decently and therefore to have an adequate income. Political freedom, guaranteed human rights and personal self-respect are «additional choices».

3.  The secondary element in the definition of human development is that of the formation and use of human capabilities. Unless the possibilities for formation and use are «finely balance[d]», «human frustration may result».

4.  Finally, there is added the idea that human development refers to the «level of well-being» of people, as well as to the «process of widening people’s choices» as in 1 above (italics original).

When analysed like this, it seems clear that there is a progression from one definition of human development to another. The dominant group among the report writers see human development as a «process» which has the goal (though they do not use this term) of «widening choices». An intermediate position holds that the widening of choices is a goal of human development, but not just any old choices are involved. There is a certain «hierarchy» implied, where some choices are more important than others. In other words, there is some «objective» basis on which choices can be judged and compared, so that some are considered to be more important than others. Strikingly, political freedom, human rights and «personal self-respect» are not seen to be as «critical» to human development as long life expectancy, education and a decent income. Despite this rather surprising statement, the main problem with this is not that it sees guaranteed human rights as an additional choice, but rather that it is difficult to see these aspects of human flourishing as «choices» at all. What does it mean to say that one «chooses» something like «guaranteed human rights» or «personal self-respect»? Asking a question like this shows that we have moved from the first position on human development (one based purely on choice) to a more substantive definition. It also shows that the authors are still trying to express this different definition in terms of choice, even though such language is not appropriate to such a definition. They do this probably, at least in part, to mask the fact that we have in practice got a very different definition here.

Through this intermediate position, we arrive at the third definition, which is openly substantive and which makes no reference to choice. This definition focuses on the «formation and use of human capabilities» and on the «level of well-being» of people. Since, however, the definition does not indicate what capabilities we are discussing, it can co-exist beside the two previous definitions. The result seems to be a political compromise between different groups. Overall, however, the definitions given in the report leave us with the main impression that human development is the widening of the range of choices that people have in their lives.

In comparison to these definitions, the Human Development Index is clear and based on substantive, measurable criteria, as we discussed above. «Choice», so emphasised in the definitions, does not figure in the index at all, unless one wants to say that it measures the possibility for people to make the «critical» choices of the second, clumsily-phrased definition. In practice, then, measurement of human development only very indirectly concerns choice, if at all. It measures instead the access people have to income, healthcare and education, either directly or through proxy variables 13.

What can we say about these approaches to human development? Much could be said about the philosophical background of the two definitions, but here I want to focus on two particular comparisons that focus on their usability or applicability. SRS sees human development as the result of our response to our vocation to develop fully into the human persons we are called to be by virtue of our creation by God and our redemption in Christ. In order for that to happen, we must see material goods as means towards human development. With this change of mindset, we can overcome both superdevelopment and underdevelopment and the enslavement to material things in which these two situations place us. HDR instead sees human development in three different ways, although the dominant one is that of widening human choices.

The first main advantage of the SRS definition is that it clearly applies to and challenges the advanced economies as much as the developing ones. The HDR definition is clearly aimed at the specific situation of those where economic and other goods are scarce and where there is a need to provide more of them. This is understandable in so far as the UNDP is a development agency, and therefore needs to focus its activity on developing economies. However, the weakness of their definition is that there is no recognition of the sense in which we can become enslaved by too much choice, as much as by too little, unless we know what we are making choices for and what we are using the goods of this world for. The possibility for this kind of enslavement is all too evident in the advanced economies. As a result, their definition is, at best, applicable only to a part of the world. Even then it is limited by its lack of recognition of the potential problems of defining human development as the widening of choices. This latter problem is lessened by the fact that the other definitions in the report somewhat counterbalance its weaknesses, but at the cost of having several conflicting definitions of the report’s key concept existing uneasily side by side. However, the first problem, that of partial applicability, is not helped by these secondary definitions. In other words, while the definition of human development in SRS is «globalisable», that of the UNDP is not.

The second main advantage of the SRS definition is that it is coherent while being minimally prescriptive, that is, while allowing the details of what constitutes human development at the level of a particular culture or a particular person to remain open. It states only two main principles: that human development is a result of our response to our vocation and that material or instrumental goods need to be treated as such, that is, as «instruments» rather than as «ends» (otherwise, they enslave us). HDR is also minimally prescriptive – the first definition prescribes only «choice», while the subsequent two contain certain basic requirements, which still however leave much open – but the HDR is not coherent in its definition, as the discussion above shows. This is also important in the «globalisability» of the SRS definition.

Having established then that the SRS definition has greater potential to be globalised than that of the UNDP, we now turn to the «common good» model of the firm, which is based on the SRS definition, as a means of bringing about global human development.

Globalising Human Development: A simple model for firms in rich and poor countries 

In the book Managing As If Faith Mattered, Michael Naughton and I propose that the purpose of the business is to promote the common good, and explain what that means in terms of a business. That the business should promote the common good is something directly mentioned by Centesimus Annus:

The integral development of the human person through work does not impede but rather promotes the greater productivity and efficiency of work itself, even though it may weaken consolidated power structures. A business cannot be considered only as a "society of capital goods"; it is also a "society of persons" in which people participate in different ways and with specific responsibilities, whether they supply the necessary capital for the company's activities or take part in such activities through their labour (n.43).

The definition of the common good we use in our book is: the promotion of all the goods necessary for integral human development in the organisation, in a such way as to respect the proper ordering of those goods. From this definition, it is clear that the common good and human development imply and support each other. The central element of promoting the common good is promoting human development in community, and human development in the context of a firm in turn is ordered towards the common good. Human development has several dimensions, and we link these dimensions to different principles from the social teaching of the Church; furthermore, human beings develop through learning how to pursue their needs in such a way that they are also striving to promote the common good. A full discussion of the concept of human development, its dimensions and its relation to the virtues is to be found in the book Managing As If Faith Mattered 14. In this paper, we focus on the simple scheme in chapter 2 of the book to help managers in making their decisions in line with, and in view of, the common good.

According to the Thomistic tradition, goods are what fulfil or perfect the human person or group, and are achieved in pursuit of a goal or end. Common goods are those in which we participate and which arise out of common activity; particular goods need to be allocated between people 15.

We argue that in promoting the common good within the business enterprise, its members, and particularly its managers, must analyse what they are doing on three levels each time they make a decision 16. The first two levels of analysis involve the ordering of two pairs of goods: excellent and foundational, common and particular 17. While the development of foundational goods (which include money, plant and buildings) can often press upon us most urgently, they do not encompass or fully explain the mission of a business, or what motivates us to go into business. These goods need to be ordered towards the realisation of the excellent goods of human development in community. Such ordering needs to happen in each business decision. This is precisely what John Paul II sees as essential to human development in SRS. Throughout their working day, managers need to keep in mind both goods (simultaneously or in parallel) so that the ordering between them is maintained 18. Thus, for instance, in designing a production system that includes human workers, the principle of the priority of the person and his/her development would need to be embodied in the structure and functioning of the system. This is not difficult to do technically, and there are many examples available of «human-centred» or skill-enhancing technical approaches that businesses can adopt profitably. What is needed is the management will and direction for that to happen 19.

Similarly, a proper ordering between common and particular (or participated and allocated) goods needs to be maintained. The allocation of particular goods depends on a prior sharing of common (participated) goods (like the legal system) and needs to be oriented towards the common good. Thus, ownership structures in the firm that favour the distribution of shares or other instruments among those working in the business can reinforce the use of these allocated shares in ownership (the particular goods of particular people) towards the common good of the business as a whole.

A final element in decision-making is that company members need to operate in the «universe» of «true» as opposed to «apparent» goods. Saying this often gets people nervous, but it is just a simple fact that we have to decide whether something we wish to pursue because it is profitable is something that we really should pursue. To include this element as one of the stages in decision-making is just being honest about what needs to be considered in making a decision. In the plural societies in which we live, there will certainly need to be discussion and debate about what constitutes a true good, and our understanding of what is truly good for us develops over time with our developing knowledge and experience (witness, for instance, our changed view about tobacco compared to that of the past). We do not suggest here that there is a fixed or limited range of true goods; what we are saying is that not everything that makes money can be considered a true good, and therefore, we need to consider the question. What we can say here is that certain types of product or activity need to be excluded (those that directly harm, those that take advantage of people’s weakness or lack of knowledge, those that are useless and trivial), which leaves open a vast array of possible true goods to be pursued. We need to form our consciences, be aware of new developments, talk to wise people, draw from the rich religious traditions of which we are a part. At the end of the day, however, as long as they are not breaking the law, only those with the right to make the decision can decide on whether what they are doing is truly good. We are not proposing a new kind of inquisition. All we are saying is that we cannot duck the question: is what I am doing truly good?

All the ordering of goods is focused around the basic principle of the common good, that is, the promotion of human development in community. In order for managers to be able to handle in practice such methods of decision-making (which do not give such clear-cut answers as simple decision-making rules like maximise shareholder wealth) some account of the role of growing in virtue needs to complement this more structural account of the common good. This is also a part of human development, and is discussed in that context in the book.

Such a model can be used in businesses and in other types of organisation for promoting the common good, and thus for promoting human development, whether one is in a rich, advanced economy or in a poor and developing one. Given the importance of businesses in producing products and services and the impact they have on our lives, if we are to see true human development in both advanced and developing economies – that is, globally – it is essential that they do follow such a model or something similar. Indeed, given the greater impact that business has on the day-to-day lives of people in the advanced economies, and the more subtle ways in which true human development can be undermined there, it is perhaps even more important in these nations than in the poorer ones that businesses genuinely try to promote the common good 20. There are many ways in which human development can be obstructed or distorted in advanced economies. Technology can have deeply dehumanising effects on those working with it, even in highly advanced technical systems (Centesimus Annus n.41), and those without technical skills can be effectively marginalised (Centesimus Annus n.33). Performance objectives can be devised and enforced so that they that encourage massaging of information to give the appearance of improved performance. Marketing schemes can be designed to play on the weaknesses of human beings and to encourage a consumerist mentality (Centesimus Annus n.36). In these and many other ways, human development may be undermined in advanced economies no less really than it is in those that are developing.

studi alford


In answering our two opening questions, we have looked at what human development means in the Cst and in the HDR series. As a result, we found that the meaning of human development in the Cst was more globally applicable than that of the UNDP and that it could therefore form a better basis on which to «globalise human development». We also saw that in the Cst, human development and the common good are inextricably linked, so that promoting the common good involves promoting human development. Thus, in the last part of the paper, we presented a simple model to help managers in businesses direct their activities towards the common good. Since businesses are a very important institutional element in the promotion of economic and human development, and since they exist in both rich and poor countries, if they can really begin to operate on a common good model, they could make a significant contribution to the globalisation of human development.

Apart from the practical application of a model, this paper has also offered a critique of the HDR definition of human development. From the point of view of the Cst and the model proposed here, the definition of human development in the HDR is problematic, even if the HDI is an improvement on the use of purely economic indicators as the basis for deciding whether an economy is healthy or not. From the point of view of the common good model, we could say that the HDR definition lacks the notion of true and apparent goods, as well as the distinction between common and particular goods. Still, in the second and third definitions we identified, there is some idea of the hierarchy of foundational and excellent goods. pdfFurthermore, since the report can also put forward definitions of human development as the formation and use of human capabilities, the report’s authors are clearly not decided amongst themselves as to what constitutes human development. They are therefore not entirely locked into the liberal philosophical idea of human development as nothing more than wider choice. Their inconsistency on this point gives some hope that they might be open to a fuller definition of human development. At the same time, the development of the HDR series represents an opportunity and challenge for all those concerned with the question of human development to make sure that the model of human development it proposes is a truly genuine one.




1 For an explanation of the shareholder and stakeholder models and a critique of them from the point of view of the common good, see chapter 2 of Helen J. Alford and Michael J. Naughton,  Managing As If Faith Mattered, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 2001.

2 See, for instance, Jean-Claude Lavigne op, The Common Good: Dialogue between Religions, ESPACES, 1997, which was produced with EU funding under the «Giving a soul to Europe» programme. Timothy Fort argues that «an international business ethic will not be the result of western logic, but will come through an ‘overlapping consensus’ among comprehensive normative frameworks» (Timothy L Fort, «The Spirituality of Solidarity and Total Quality Management,» Professional Business Ethics Journal, 14  n.2: 3-21). The idea of the common good allows such an «overlapping consensus» to develop.

3 Jacques Maritain, The Person and the Common Good, London, Geoffrey Bles, 1948, 35.

4 Ibid., 46.

5 See, for instance, Joseph Ratzinger, «Concerning the notion of person in theology», Communio, 17, Fall 1990, pp. 439 - 454.

6 Ibid., 34.

7 Ibid., 43 – 44.

8 SRS is particularly important for this discussion in two ways. Firstly, it was written on the 20th anniversary of the encyclical Populorum Progressio of Paul VI, which was the first encyclical to take the development of peoples as its main topic. That John Paul II chose to issue an encyclical on its anniversary is more than just a sign that he regards Populorum Progressio as an important document worthy of celebration and of re-visiting the issues it raises twenty years on. This is because it is the tradition in the official branch of social teaching that the seminal documents are commemorated on important anniversaries. Thus, Rerum Novarum (1891) is celebrated and revisited forty years later (1931) in Quadragesimo Anno, then again eighty years later (1971) with Octogesima Adveniens, ninety years later (1981) in Laborem Exercens and one hundred years on (1991) in Centesimus Annus. Thus, by publishing a commemorative document twenty years on from its publication, John Paul is signalling to the world that he regards Populorum Progressio as another seminal document in the tradition of social teaching of the church, in some ways on a par with Rerum Novarum. This indicates how the theme of human development and the development of peoples became centre stage in the social teaching of the Popes by 1967, 23 years before the first Human Development Report was published. Secondly, it contains the chapter discussed in the main text on authentic human development. SRS came out in 1987, three years before the first Human Development Report. Whether it had any direct influence on the initiation of this series of reports, the author does not know. In 1988, the year after the publication of SRS, the UN held a major seminar at its New York headquarters on the encyclical. While preparing this paper, however, I was able to ask the recently appointed Secretary to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Msgr. Crepaldi, about this point. While he said that he could not confirm any direct link between SRS and the HDR series, he had no doubt that the unfolding of papal teaching on development from Populorum Progressio onwards had influenced the move towards a more «human-centred» view of development.

9 All quotations come from SRS n.27.

10 Interestingly, the first HDR in 1990 says the following near the beginning of the report Overview: «No one can guarantee human happiness and the choices people make are their own concern». Thus, both SRS and HDR 1990 talk about human happiness in relation to development.

11 All quotations come from SRS n.28.

12 p.1, HDR 1990.

13 However, the report also says that «the index is an approximation for capturing the many dimensions of human choices» (p.1), indicating that even here, the ideal would be to devise an index in terms of choice.

14  In Chapter 3.

15 The meanings of the  terms good and goods, excellent, foundational, particular and common are covered extensively in chapter 2 of Managing As If Faith Mattered.

16 In the case of routine or relatively unimportant decisions, these levels of analysis will not be made explicitly. Rather, ideally the person will gradually develop a «virtuous disposition», such that he or she «automatically» thinks along these lines even when they are not consciously considered as part of the decision. When important decisions are being made, or where there is time for reflection, then explicit analysis is appropriate.

17 «Excellent» goods are more widely referred to as «inherent» or «intrinsic» goods, while «foundational goods» are usually referred to as «instrumental» or «extrinsic». Since this terminology tends to give a negative view of merely «instrumental» goods like money, we have tried to get away from this by using the different terms of excellent and foundational, both of which imply that these goods are important in their own ways.

18 We discuss in application chapters how this could begin to work out in practice. For instance, we look at the possibilities for skill-enhancing technologies in the area of job design and pay schemes that respect the principles of a living wage, an equitable wage (based on contribution to the firm) and a sustainable wage (based on what the business can afford). In each case, the aim is to consider foundational goods (like making enough profit) in parallel with excellent goods like the development of the human person.

19 See Managing As If Faith Mattered, chapter 4, with references.

20 Interestingly on this point, a survey reported in The Economist last year (15.01.00) indicated that over 75% of people in Britain and the US regarded the role of business as to «help build a better society for all» rather than only «mak[ing] profit, pay[ing] taxes», meanwhile in Russia, Kazakhstan and China, the majority chose the second response. Public opinion in the advanced economies seems to confirm what is said here. Indeed, opinion polls on business regularly show that people in the UK and US mistrust business, partly because of the way business organisations instrumentalise the good of others towards their own gain. Robert Keen in a recent discussion paper writes: ‘Every study over the last decade, on both sides of the Atlantic, attests that corporate management remains persistently at the bottom of the league in any comparison of public perceptions of «trustworthiness» among the professions. A Business Week – Harris Poll study in the United States in 1989 clearly denoted a strong public opinion that, in its quest for greater profits, business will not always be averse to harming the environment, endangering public health, selling inferior products and even putting workers’ safety at risk . . . Ten years on this perception has deteriorated further. A Leeds University study suggests that UK society is riddled with a mistrust of business, not believing that it cares about the community, the environment or even about customers as individuals. . . A MORI/Financial Times poll reveals that business now attracts the lowest approval rating since records began. Asked «Do you agree that the profits of large British companies make things better for everyone?» only 25% «do» compared with 52% who «do not.» This result is exactly the opposite of that recorded in the first such poll carried out in 1970. . .» (see Robert Keen, Knowing What the Right Thing Is, Discussion Paper 1 in the series «Ethics, Excellence and Leadership» of the von Hügel Institute, St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, 2000, 2. The studies he cites to make these points are: T Lloyd, The Nice Company, London, Bloomsbury Publishing, 1990, 4; Leeds University, ‘Life at the End of the 20th Century,’ cited in The Times, 5 September 1998; MORI/Financial Times Study, cited in the Financial Times, Weekend Money Section, 27 February 1999, 2.)




Alford, Helen M. and Michael J. Naughton, Managing As If Faith Mattered, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 2001.

Fort, Timothy L., «The Spirituality of Solidarity and Total Quality Management,» Professional Business Ethics Journal, vol. 14, n.2, 1995, pp. 3 – 21.

John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, London, Catholic Truth Society, 1988 (the encyclical was published in the official version on 30th December 1987).

John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, London, Catholic Truth Society, 1991.

Lavigne, Jean-Claude op, The Common Good: Dialogue between Religions, Brussels, ESPACES, 1997.

Maritain, Jacques, The Person and the Common Good, London, Geoffrey Bles, 1948.

Ratzinger, Joseph, «Concerning the notion of person in theology», Communio, 17, Fall 1990, pp. 439 – 454.

United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Reports 1990 – 2001, New York, OUP, 1990 – 2001.



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Albino Barrera OP  -  Stefano Menghinello  -  Sabina Alkire

Introduction of Piotr Janas OP