Front Page Titles (by Subject) Natural Law and the State - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4
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Natural Law and the State - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Natural Law and the State
“Anarchism, Autonomy, and the Concept of the Common Good.” International Philosophical Quarterly 17 (1977): 273–283.
We may ground the state in a dual essence theory of human nature and in a conception of the common good which weds the twin truths that human beings are both sociable and metaphysically free.
Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchism (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1970), and Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974) have drawn attention to freedom and to the defects within both liberalism and modern ideas of government. However, Wolff's and Nozick's initial contrast between society and the individual, together with their concentration on problems of law and coercion, misunderstand autonomy and sociability. These authors wrongly believe that political authority is incompatible with human freedom.
Self-awareness and the aim to live a meaningful life distinguishes human existence. Political activities, however, generally represent one group's attempt to “live the lives of others.” Escaping this censure would be those minimal state activities derived from the right of self-defense.
Autonomy means the capacity both to shape the forces that act on humans (independence) and to act on these forces according to the self-chosen plan of one's life. This view of autonomy, as articulated in the writings of Jacques Maritain, is compatible with the concept of the common good. The process of achieving autonomy actually occurs in a social context. Individuals achieve their identity in a necessary relationship with other humans. Each must learn from others in order to master his freedom, i.e., to actively shape his life and actions. In making our actions intelligible to others, we make them intelligible to ourselves. Thus, the experience of individual autonomy necessarily refers to other humans and presupposes society.
An individual's proper good, is what he makes his own (good) by virtue of desiring it. If the individual is to understand what he is doing in pursuing his proper good, there must be some criterion by which he judges it worthy. The criterion must be a criterion for him-together-with-others. By its nature, the common good must be redistributed to individuals; if it exists, we must make it available to individuals so that they may pursue their proper good. Individuals presuppose the common good in order to function as autonomous beings, pursuing their proper good.
The public interest, on the other hand, is the good aimed at by cooperative tasks voluntarily undertaken. Achievement of the public interest benefits all; each individual pursues the public interest as his own proper good.
The autonomous person must be selfaware; he must also be aware of himself with-others. Since his being-with-others is also others-being-with-him, this state is a common one, and moreover, is a worthy state to be in for its own sake.
The political order addresses the autonomous individual in the context of being-with-others. The state functions to care for the common good, and from this function, it is argued, creates its legitimacy. The political order defines the way in which each individual should take responsibility for the common good. The common good, in turn, provides the standard for criticizing existing states.