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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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Reparative Justice and the Moral Limits of Discretionary Philanthropy

Reparative Justice and the Moral Limits of Discretionary Philanthropy

(p.244) Ten Reparative Justice and the Moral Limits of Discretionary Philanthropy
Philanthropy in Democratic Societies

Chiara Cordelli

University of Chicago Press

It is a widespread assumption, both in common sense morality and in political discourse, that individual philanthropists and foundations should enjoy wide discretion in their donations. Donors should be at liberty to give to organizations that promote causes donors care about. Governments often encourage this discretion. After scrutinizing the moral foundations of the duty to give, I argue that, given the role philanthropy should, as a matter of principle, play in many current societies, the level of discretion donors currently enjoy is unjustified. Because in non-ideal contexts philanthropy should foremost be understood as a means of reparative justice, donors ought to conceive of their giving as a public action, rather than as a private gift, and thus as subject to stringent moral constraints. Further, public officials should design tax-incentives for private giving in a way that minimizes donors' discretion.

Keywords:   philanthropy, beneficence, justice, distributive justice, reparative justice, discretion, donor control

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