Subsidiarity is the term used to describe the principle that decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level, beginning with the individual, through the family, local voluntary associations, and then to government (local, national, and global). This decision-making approach has been characterized as decentralist or bottom-up. The principle has both libertarian and collectivist interpretations. The origins of the doctrine can be found in Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, and it was most developed in Roman Catholic social doctrine. The idea was formally documented as “a most weighty principle” in article 79 of Pope Pius XFs encyclical Quadragesimo Anno:

Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, also ...
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