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Title: Donors' Democracy: Private Philanthropy and Political Morality
Authors: Lechterman, Theodore
Advisors: Beitz, Charles R.
Lane, Melissa S.
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: charity
democratic theory
Subjects: Political science
Public policy
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: We commonly believe that citizens of a liberal democracy should be free to donate private property, particularly when those donations serve public purposes. The fact that philanthropy releases resources to the public benefit may support the thought that the state should afford it wide discretion, if not affirmative subsidy. Support for donor discretion faces numerous challenges, however. Since the claims of need demand special moral urgency, some argue that the state must steer donations toward a society’s least well-off members. From this perspective, the fact that contemporary policies subsidize donations on an indiscriminate basis appears counterintuitive, if not unjustified. Another problem lies in the way philanthropy can convert wealth into public influence. Donations are a valuable way of expressing one’s identity and advocating for conceptions of the common good. However, when donations serve to amplify the voices of those with greater resources, they appear to clash with a sacred democratic norm: that citizens are entitled to equal influence over their common affairs. Finally, making donations beyond one’s lifetime can be a valuable way of caring for the interests of future generations. But it is also a way of imposing the wills of the past upon future persons, and restricting their own choices. Under what conditions, if any, must future persons honor the philanthropic intentions of the past? As a contribution to the political theory of philanthropy, this dissertation shows how the political morality of liberal democracy provides resources for resolving these conflicts, both in principle and in practice.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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