John Hospers

A Quote by John Hospers on public interest, common good, public good, indiviual, and society

People speak of "the public interest." But what is the public interest? Strictly speaking, there is no such thing. There is only the interest of each individual human being. There are interests that many or all people share, but these are still the interests of individuals. When politicians say that something is "to the public interest," they usually mean it serves the interests of some people but goes against the interests of others -- and usually the interests of the people with the most political pull win out. Is it to the public interest for some to be forced to die so that others may be saved? Is it to the public interest for a hundred crazed men to lynch one man in the public square? Is it to the public interest for all the citizens of the nation to be taxed to pay for a federal dam in one section of it? In Sweden it takes a couple eight years on the average before they can obtain an apartment of their own (owned by the government, rented by them); but they are not supposed to complain, because "it's in the public interest." Just as there are only individual rights, so there are only individual interests.

John Hospers

Source: Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow 84 (1971)

Contributed by: peter

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