The Nature of the Good Society
New Zealand's Future and Sustainable Development Goals
What constitutes the good life for human beings? What ways of life are best? What are the defining characteristics of a good society – and a good world? And what do we mean by progress and how should it be measured? Or, to put it differently, what should be the goals of public policy, what kind of society should citizens endeavour to build, what institutions best enable human beings to flourish, what principles of justice should inform governmental decision-making and how should the non-human world be incorporated into a conception of the good? Such questions are profoundly important. They go to the core of our humanity. Inherently, they are ethical: they are about what is good and bad, beneficial and harmful, right and wrong, just and unjust. Inevitably, too, such questions are political: they concern the proper role of the state, which ends or goals governments should pursue and by what means, under what circumstances coercion is justified, and how the allocation of scarce resources should be prioritized. My focus is on New Zealand and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I am taking the view that the SDGs provide a useful framework for thinking about the nature of the good society and a set of concrete goals and targets towards which we should aspire; they are not, of course, comprehensive and do not constitute a final destination.