The Future of Philanthropy

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 4, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

(image by Daniel Mennerich)

Questioning Today’s Orthodoxies, Re-affirming Yesterday’s Foundations

Philanthropy today has reached an impasse in both theory and practice. This article maps a way beyond that impasse by taking us back to philanthropy’s core function and traditional values. The standard academic model sees philanthropy as subordinate and supplemental to our society’s other public sectors, the market and the state, and uses their metrics to measure its performance. Current law, best reflected in the federal income tax code, closely parallels that perspective. This article proposes to reverse the dominant theoretical perspective and reveal a radically different relationship among society’s three public sectors, the market, the state, and the philanthropic. Following both classical Western philosophy and the three Abrahamist faiths, this perspective places philanthropy first and measures everything, including our current economic and political systems, by a neo-classical philanthropic standard: the highest good of all humankind.

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

Rob Atkinson is a Greenspoon Marder Professor at Florida State University College of Law.

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