5.1.1 Outline of units 5, 6 and 7

Unit 5 Contents

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We are at the half-way point in Module B and to some extent this marks a shift from theory to practice.  In this unit and Unit 6 we study CST on the urgent challenge of global poverty, especially the poverty that still afflicts a huge number of people in some African, Asian and Latin American countries.  Unit 7 will address issues of peace and war.  Are there any more pressing practical questions facing humanity than these?

Our study in most of the module so far has been organized around three normative questions that can be asked about government (see 1.4.2):

What is the proper role of political authority?

Why should we obey government at all?

How should government be constituted?

In relation to the second, Why?, it was sufficient to look at this only briefly in order to understand the basics of how CST answers it (2.2.7).  The first, What?, was examined in much of Unit 2 and all of Unit 3, and the second, How?, in some of Unit 2 and in Unit 4.

If most of the study so far has seemed quite theoretical, this is not a bad thing: the great problems the world faces undoubtedly need good theory combined with good practice, not unthinking bad practice.  Moreover, the questions to which we have given most attention so far are in one sense practical. What should we do (and not do) by means of government? How should we structure the constitution so that government can most fully achieve that?

Hence the shift at this point from theory to practice is only partial. Furthermore, the first of those three questions (especially) will stay with us in Units 5, 6 and 7.  In seeking to overcome great poverty, what should government do and what is up to people acting independently (for example in business)? In relation to peace and war, what must those with political authority do, and what may they never do?  These units will, therefore, add detail to the conception of the role of government that was outlined in Unit 3.

This moment in the module marks another partial shift too: from domestic to international.  The context in which we have addressed those three questions so far has largely been domestic, in the sense of ‘within a single political community’.  Inevitably, as we turn to global poverty and to peace and war, we give attention to responsibilities that go beyond any one country’s borders.

The main reading in this unit will be Pope Paul VI’s encyclical of 1967, Populorum Progressio, also known as On the Development of Peoples.  Very near the start of this, he drew attention explicitly to that shift in CST itself: “Today the principal fact that we must all recognize is that the social question has become world-wide” (#3).

This statement had in mind Populorum Progressio’s focus on global poverty.  But John XXIII’s encyclical of four years earlier, Pacem in Terris, Peace on Earth – parts of which we looked at in units 3 and 4 – had already marked that shift, in relation especially to the terrible Cold War challenge of avoiding nuclear conflagration.  We shall give more attention to Pacem in Terris in Unit 7.

Learning outcomes for Unit 5

By the end of this unit, you should be able,

*  to make use of the ‘see, judge, act’ method of tackling specific social problems

*  to explain and discuss what CST means by each of the following terms:

– solidarity

– social justice

– integral human development

*  to give examples of what each of those principles means in practice, in relation to international development

*  to summarise the main lines of critique of Populorum Progressio made from ‘left’ and ‘right’.

We shall return to these at the end of the unit.

 

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End of 5.1.1

Go to 5.1.2 Desperate people

Module B outline

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