Private Virtues, Public Vices: Philanthropy and Democratic Equality
by Emma Saunders-Hastings
University of Chicago Press
Cloth: 978-0-226-81614-2 | eISBN: 978-0-226-81613-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-81615-9
Library of Congress Classification LB2369.T82 1969
Dewey Decimal Classification 808.042

 A thought-provoking challenge to our ideas about philanthropy, marking it as a deeply political activity that allows the wealthy to dictate more than we think.

Philanthropy plays a huge role in supporting the provision of many public goods in contemporary societies. As a result, decisions that affect public outcomes and people’s diverse interests are often dependent on the preferences and judgments of the rich. Political theorist Emma Saunders-Hastings argues that philanthropy is a deeply political activity. She asks readers to look at how the power wielded by philanthropy impacts democracy and deepens political inequality by enabling the wealthy to exercise outsize influence in public life and by putting in place paternalistic relationships between donors and their intended beneficiaries. If philanthropy is to be made compatible with a democratic society of equals, it must be judged not simply on the benefits it brings but on its wider political consequences. Timely and thought-provoking, Private Virtues, Public Vices will challenge readers’ thoughts on what philanthropy is and how it truly affects us.
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