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Philanthropy in Democratic SocietiesHistory, Institutions, Values$
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Rob Reich, Chiara Cordelli, and Lucy Bernholz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226335506

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226335780.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 06 March 2021

Philanthropy and Democratic Ideals

Philanthropy and Democratic Ideals

(p.226) Nine Philanthropy and Democratic Ideals
Philanthropy in Democratic Societies

Ryan Pevnick

University of Chicago Press

The type of civil society that we have is largely a product of public policy decisions made about the sector’s governance. This paper’s goal is conceptual: it seeks to explain the very different place of philanthropy in two influential ideals of democracy (market democracy and democratic equality). Market democrats are the standard champions of philanthropy, which they value because they see private giving as more likely to be effective than state run programs, more consistent with classical liberal conceptions of justice than such programs, and important in facilitating effective criticism of public officials. However, I show that even if market democrats provide a set of reasons for celebrating philanthropy that cannot be endorsed by egalitarian democrats, the latter position nevertheless gives it two important roles. First, so long as the society falls short of realizing the goals set forth by liberal egalitarian conceptions of justice, philanthropy is one important mechanism for helping to approach those goals. Second, philanthropists can help realize the ideal of democratic equality by supporting cultural goods. This discussion suggests that policy disputes about philanthropy are often parasitic on deeper disputes of democratic theory and cannot ordinarily be adjudicated on narrower grounds.

Keywords:   democracy, philanthropy, equality, classical liberalism, culture, distributive justice

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