Philanthropy in Democratic Societies: History, Institutions, Values

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9780226335506: Philanthropy in Democratic Societies: History, Institutions, Values
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Philanthropy is everywhere. In 2013, in the United States alone, some $330 billion was recorded in giving, from large donations by the wealthy all the way down to informal giving circles. We tend to think of philanthropy as unequivocally good, but as the contributors to this book show, philanthropy is also an exercise of power. And like all forms of power, especially in a democratic society, it deserves scrutiny. Yet it rarely has been given serious attention. This book fills that gap, bringing together expert philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, historians, and legal scholars to ask fundamental and pressing questions about philanthropy’s role in democratic societies.
           
The contributors balance empirical and normative approaches, exploring both the roles philanthropy has actually played in societies and the roles it should play. They ask a multitude of questions: When is philanthropy good or bad for democracy? How does, and should, philanthropic power interact with expectations of equal citizenship and democratic political voice? What makes the exercise of philanthropic power legitimate? What forms of private activity in the public interest should democracy promote, and what forms should it resist? Examining these and many other topics, the contributors offer a vital assessment of philanthropy at a time when its power to affect public outcomes has never been greater. 

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About the Author:

Rob Reich is the faculty director of the Center for Ethics in Society, faculty co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and professor of political science at Stanford University, with courtesy appointments in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Education. He is the author or editor of many books, most recently Education, Justice, and Democracy, published by the University of Chicago Press.

Review:

Philanthropy in Democratic Societies begins an urgently needed discussion of the ethical questions raised by the changing role of philanthropy in the United States and elsewhere.” (Peter Singer, author of The Most Good You Can Do)

“Finally! A really good, academic treatment of the political and philosophical underpinnings of philanthropy. Reich, Cordelli, and Bernholz managed to corral many of the best scholars writing and thinking about philanthropy, putting together an illuminating collection of essays (including their own) that draw on history, law, organizational theory, and philosophy to challenge and provoke practitioners to think hard about how we justify what we do. This is indispensable reading for anyone who thinks seriously about the obligations and responsibilities of philanthropy. Actually, it’s even more indispensable for anyone who doesn’t.” (Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewitt Foundation)

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