7th – 8th July 2014, University of Brighton 

“From life-saving emergency responses to life-changing development projects and campaigning, our amazing supporters help make all this possible. There’s more vital work to be done, so get involved today.”
Oxfam’s website.

“There comes a point where you need to not just pull people out of the river; you need to go upstream and find out who is pushing them in.”
Jack, a mum and blogger who once relied on foodbanks, 2013.

Helping others in need through charitable giving and work is surely just obviously a good thing. If we see that someone is starving and we have some food going spare, then it seems self-evident that we ought to give it to them. Perhaps not: perhaps charity, insofar as it hacks at the branches of society’s problems and not its roots, is part of the disease, not the cure.

There are (at least) two central aspects of this debate, which might be termed ‘ethical’ and ‘political’. The first is about what we do as individuals; the second is about the role of charity as social institution. And of course, how these aspects connect and diverge is crucial and controversial. This conference aimed to think through the ethical and political issues of charity, and their interconnections, with people from diverse backgrounds: charity workers and recipients of charity as well as theoreticians on charity from a variety of academic disciplines.


Abid, Sufyan, University of Sussex, UK

Purifying and Multiplying the Profits: Motivations, aspirations and practices of doing charity and philanthropy among Birmingham Muslims

This paper primarily explores why Birmingham Muslims do charity and what relationship it has with their social, religious, economic and political practices in everyday life. This paper problematizes the meanings and complex nature of doing charity and giving donations in the everyday life of Birmingham Muslims. Also, the paper analyses what links charity practices of Birmingham Muslims has with various reformist Muslim organisations and groups. Charity among Birmingham Muslims, although a religiously motivated phenomenon, has its impact on the local socio-political dynamics and has a vital role in reorientations of their relationship with imagined global community of Muslims i.e. Ummah. This paper is based on one year ethnographic fieldwork in predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods in Birmingham as part of PhD. The paper suggests that different reformist Muslim groups reinterpret and reorient the culture of giving among Birmingham Muslims by providing them new definitions and horizons for doing charity. At the same time, modern discourses of being good Muslims are evoked by fundraisers and reformist Muslim groups. The paper suggests that Birmingham Muslims’ charity practices are shaped by the pressures of being prosperous and by the fears that their financial assets might be taken away from them, in case, they don’t do charity.

Bascara, Rachelle, Birbeck, University of London, UK, From Charity to Justice

According to Nagel, in the absence of global governance, we cannot justify justice-based duties for the eradication of severe poverty. Poverty grounds humanitarian duties of assistance, making the eradication of poverty supererogatory. Using the framework of cosmopolitan philosophers, I argue that there are strong justice-based duties to eradicate severe poverty. But given humanity’s recent level of material abundance, we are currently in an abnormal moral context when in comes to poverty, where a reasonable person cannot be expected to fully grasp the wrongness of her attitude and behavior. According to Jamieson, moral progress has four stages: (1) recognition of the practice of subordination, (2) paternalistic defence of the subordinated, (3) the move from the view that the subordinated require charity to the view that they have rights not to be harmed, and (4) the recognition that people are entitled to what they need to realize their ends. Framing the problem in terms of charity is valuable, and arguably necessary, because it (1) helps the actual project of eradicating poverty, (2) disseminates information about the abnormal moral situation, (3) engenders the normalization of the moral context and enables the realization that poverty is about justice not charity.

Brecher, Bob, University of Brighton, UK, Against Charity

Starting with the observation that voluntariness is central to charity, both individually and structurally, I shall offer some observations about why it is supererogatory and about some of the implications of that. Specifically, I shall consider the relations between charity, gifts and gratitude. On the basis of this (admittedly rough) description of charity, I shall go on to focus on two objections to it. First, and much the more important, I argue that recipients of charity are put in a position of dependency; and that that renders them not fully persons. Second, I suggest that engaging in charity might adversely affect those doing so. Finally, I offer a third objection, by way of a few remarks about the particular salience of these observations for a critique of the role of charity and charities in assisting the neo-liberal revolutionaries in their dismantling of the Welfare State at home and extending the neo-liberal Empire abroad.

Coccoli, Lorenzo, University of Rome, Italy, Institutionalizing Charity: the Rise of Public Relief Between Charity and Justice

Starting from the early decades of the sixteenth century, some of the main European cities began to issue a number of normative provisions aimed at secularizing assistance to the poor.

Thanks to the theoretical debates that accompanied them, we are able to evaluate the ideological background which led to the birth of public poor relief. I will point out how the new interest of secular powers in the relief and moral correction of the poor is based on an absorption of the virtue of charity – which in the Scholastic approach presided over the sphere of mutual aid and fraternal correction – by the coercive logic of justice. This process led in turn to a distortion of the traditional concept of charity. As we shall see, charity was transformed into a powerful technique aimed at restoring social order and securing political stability. On the one side, as Saint Thomas had already noted, the act of giving alms makes the recipient feel obligated to the donor (which is now the city), strengthening the relation between the first and the latter. On the other side, the moral improvement implied by the concept of fraternal correction is now bended to a new social orthopedics that seeks to turn the poor in a quiet and productive member of the community.

In this sense, this episode may be considered as the very archetype of similar future governmental interventions aimed at disciplining social body and stabilizing political community.

Colpus, Eve, University of Southampton, UK, Historicising the ‘Tainted Altruism Effect’: Women’s Philanthropy in the 1920s and 1930

The ‘tainted altruism effect’ is big news today. Developed by academics George Newman and Daylian Cain, it explains a recognisable ethical problem: when efforts resulting in both charitable and personal benefits are valued as worse than efforts that produce no charitable benefits. This paper offers a historical perspective on this moral dilemma. My focus is on British women’s philanthropy in the 1920s and 1930s. Drawing upon writings by philanthropists, critics and wider social commentators, I show how women were grappling to resolve altruistic and self-interested behaviours in the contexts of enduring religious codes of charity, newly emerging psychological discourses and evolving gender ideals. The paper argues that this debate was part of a series of broader cultural shifts and shifts in women’s lives: the impact of the First World War, the rise of state welfare and new feminist thinking. Looking more closely at the dynamics of charity, it raises questions about the longer-term development of philanthropy in Britain: specifically, about the ways in which religious engagement were beginning to be augmented by a bigger engagement with the spiritual and psychological, and how philanthropy chose to straddle those issues. Ethical and political questions are inherently rooted in environments specific to both time and place. If we are to try to understand the ‘motivations’ or ‘outcomes’ of charity, we need to understand the historically-specific contexts in which charitable behaviours took place. This paper hopes to contribute to this endeavour.

Franklin-Hall, Andrew, The University of California, Riverside, US, Two Aspects of Charity

Historically, “charity” referred, first, to the benevolent love that the Christian was to bear toward his neighbor, and only secondarily to beneficent acts toward those in want. The assumed connection was that charitable action would naturally flow from charitable feeling. Hence, both the practical and affective aspects of charity were thought to be invoked in the commandment to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Kant sought to attenuate this connection. He believed that, since we cannot control our affections, we cannot be obligated to feel anything. The duty to “love thy neighbor” only requires us to act on the maxim of beneficence. While fellow- feeling is meritorious in making us readier to do our duty, that duty is grounded in what we can will consistently with universal law. Against this background, this paper reexamines the traditional view regarding these two aspects of charity as this is worked out by Thomas Aquinas. I focus on two issues. First, I show why, on the Thomistic view, affective charity is necessary if we are even to identify what practical charity requires of us. Second, given the theocentric character of Thomistic charity, I articulate what Aquinas has to offer our more humanistic age.

George, Lisa, Independent Scholar, Charitable Activities and the Symptoms of Poverty

This paper will focus on charities and charitable activities that attempt to combat the symptoms of poverty in foreign countries (e.g. child malnutrition, lack of clean water etc.) In order to campaign and raise money for their cause, such charities will often use images and narratives that render the victims voiceless, emphasise their hopelessness, provide simplistic accounts of the problem and offer relatively easy solutions. While appreciating that this approach is sometimes necessary and efficacious, it will be argued that the types of messages communicated by these charities may also limit certain possibilities. For instance, the communicated messages don’t offer enough narratives that represent the diversity and individuality of the people affected, their unique socio-economic conditions and often fail to engender deeper considerations of the political dimensions of global inequality that need to be changed.

Laidman, Pam, University of Brighton, UK, Organisational Structures in the Voluntary Sector

This paper will consider the meaning of charity in Britain today within the context of practical charitable giving. It will examine the organisational structures operating within the voluntary sector through which much charitable giving takes place and question whether current practices have reframed our understanding of ‘charity’. It will suggest that we are at risk of loosing virtuous charitable giving and a voluntary sector which is capable of radical action which can challenge the existing structures of society.

Lechterman, Ted, Princeton University, US, Charity’s Injustice

A common criticism of the practice of contemporary charity the hinges on the fact that the benefits of charity do not accrue in any meaningful sense to society’s least well-off members. This criticism signals an “eleemosynary” conception of charity, according to which distributive equality serves as the practice’s regulative ideal. This paper argues that the eleemosynary conception of charity is difficult to square with leading theories of distributive justice. Such theories generally hold that individuals’ status as equal citizens endows them with socioeconomic rights against a society’s basic structure. For the most part, rights are not to be satisfied by voluntary goodwill, but claimed against the state. The fact that the practice of charity fails to do much for the poor is not necessarily a strike against it. In fact, as the paper goes on to argue, there are good reasons for believing that charity’s job specification lies elsewhere.

I propose that the unique purpose of charity is the promotion of goods associated with human excellence, such as in pursuits of science, art, and culture. Promoting these goods is for the most part supererogatory: it goes beyond what justice requires. Indeed, justice imposes constraints on the pursuit of these good outcomes. On this analysis, while not its regulative ideal, equality can be seen as a governing constraint on the practice of charity. I thus find support for the claim that beneficent practices such as charity ought not exacerbate unjustified inequality. In addition, although promoting equality is not its primary job specification, I suggest that under non-ideal conditions, voluntary enterprise may incur a secondary responsibility to rectify distributive injustice. However, specifying the content and contours of this responsibility requires special care.

Linsell, Nikki, University of Nottingham, UK, Building Meaning: In Search of a Good Architecture

Modernism in the 20th century possessed a clear sense of political engagement, envisioning broad societal change as a fundamental part of its discipline. Now, with the architectural profession undergoing major global transformations, many architects have become disengaged with commercial mainstream practices and once again are attempting to redefine their ethical role within society.

In search of making the profession relevant again, architectural volunteerism, packaged in the form of the architectural INGO, has established itself as the place to go if you want to ‘do good’ with your design skills. This desire to find a new ethical ideology for the profession evident, with hundreds of eager students and architects in the West on waiting lists to go and ‘help’ (re)design the Rest.

By reviewing critical periods within architectural history, this paper looks to reflect upon the ethics of these socio-political design movements and discuss the latest trend within the profession of ‘humanitarian’ do good design as a way of re-establishing a new social engagement perspective. I ask whether architectural charity is really the answer.

Lovat, Toby, University of Brighton, UK, The Big Society, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Foodbanks in the UK

On a first approach there would seem to be a contradiction between, on the one hand, the idea of the ‘Big Society’ (the UK Coalition government’s flagship ‘big’ idea and the personal mission the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron) and on the other hand the UK Government’s continued adherence to neoliberal policy, broadly construed. In this presentation I demonstrate that the Big Society’s two ideological planks, so-called Red Toryism and Liberal Paternalism, provide a particularly fertile ground for the re-articulation and, thereby, continued expansion of neoliberal policies. As such, I argue that the contradiction between the Big Society and the neoliberal agenda is, therefore, merely apparent, and that, moreover, the rise of food banks in the UK is a particularly clear example of the seamless compatibility of these two strands of government policy. I conclude simply that foodbanks are a clear example of the ‘Big Society’ and that both (foodbanks and the Big Society) should be understood as part of the ever deeper and broader entrenchment of neoliberal ideals in to the structure of society and everyday life.

Mohan, Sushil, University of Brighton, Fairtrade: Oversold, Misunderstood or Unethical?

The Fairtrade market is unique as Fairtrade products sell for a higher price than comparable conventional products. For the growth of its market, Fairtrade relies on campaigning which tends to convey that non-Fairtrade products may have been unfairly traded. This draws reactions from competitors. With the increased visibility of Fairtrade the debates about its benefits, shortcomings and business ethics have grown. This paper critically examines these debates. It emerges that it is not correct for Fairtrade to position itself as a movement that corrects the injustices of unregulated markets or as a trading channel that is more ethical than other trading relationships. The conclusions underline the importance of Fairtrade being identified as an alternative speciality (niche) market trading channel that operates within the free market system for increasing the welfare of a target group and it should not distract attention from other direct measures to improve the conditions of producers and workers in developing countries.

Murdock, Alex, London South Bank University, UK, Food Banks: An Exploration of Some Ethical and Political Dimensions Based on Different Visions from the USA and the UK

The concept of emergency food provision has been linked to both environmental and social agendas.. One aspect of this, food banks, developed as a response in North America both in Canada and in the USA ( Riches 2002) . Emergency food issues are also associated with concerns about diet and poverty. (Dowler 2001). The pressures on public sector provision and the need for new modes of leadership spanning sectors makes this an appropriate area for investigation focussing upon Civil Society based responses. (Brookes &Grint 2010). The paper develops a comparative approach based on work undertaken in the UK and USA. To what extent are differences linked to political variation?

Food banks , the paper argues, reside in what has been described as the 4th Sector – they are at the intersection of public /private and social – why do we say this?

  • They are serving a public need ( furnishing an essential need to citizens who do not have it) . They are seen (sometimes negatively) as substituting for something which should be provided by the state.
  • They are significantly –as in the USA – very closely linked to the private sector and sometimes almost mirror the private sector in the way they operate ( supply chains/ logistics
  • They are however also ( perhaps more so than many civil society organisations) heavily dependent on the voluntary donation of goods/ time / money and expertise by citizens. They in some respects represent the epitome of the charitable concept… often ( as in the UK) with a very strong faith based concept.Food banks themselves have origins in North America ( especially Phoenix, Arizona and in Canada). Here there are very significant differences in scale with some food banks running on a warehouse principle and others having a much more local basis.

The political and ethical issues relating to food banks and related food provision will be explored and described locating them in the national contexts and in particular in their welfare and social enterprise/ social economy settings utilising a comparative model.

Novelli, Marina, University of Brighton, Travel Philanthropy vs. Sustainable Development – a Critical Understanding of a Problematic Relationship

Travel philanthropy is a concept that combines philanthropic principles with social-justice-oriented forms of tourism. Arising from frustration with the ineffectiveness of much conventional aid and traditional philanthropic giving, travel philanthropy is a form of development assistance whereby funds, labour and/or other resources flow directly from the travel industry into community development and conservation initiatives.

Philanthropists have sought to achieve social transformation throughout history and travel philanthropy in all its forms has evolved through the democratization of charity, with the notion that one can ‘do good’ through ‘giving back’ whilst travelling seeing an increase in popularity through a number of travel philanthropy practices. However, given travel philanthropy’s emphasis on its responsive immediacy, its charitable contributions’ (often) incidental nature, and its reliance on travellers’ behaviour, characterised by fluid lifestyle trends and choices, critical questions can be raised over the ethics and politics or travel philanthropy and on the extent to which travel philanthropy is an effective tool for sustainable development. In line with the conference focus, there are (at least) two central aspects of the travel philanthropy debate, which might be termed ‘ethical’ and ‘political’. The first is about what we do as individuals, consumers and travellers; the second is about the role of philanthropy and travel philanthropy as social construct. How these aspects connect and diverge is crucial and controversial.

This stream aims to stimulate critical thinking on the ethics and politics of travel philanthropy and their interconnections and on the effectiveness of travel philanthropy as a sustainable development solution to community problems and/or conservation. The complex relationship between ‘donors’ (e.g. travellers, tour operators, etc.) and the recipients of the ‘giving’ (e.g. specific community and/or conservation projects, third sector organizations, community members, etc.) as well as the theoretical vs. practical implications that will emerge from the interplay of a variety of academic perspectives vs. empirical findings will provide an interesting platform to critically discuss travel philanthropy.

Pantazatos, Andreas, Durham University, UK, Is Charity Compatible with the Idea of the Capitalist Market?

Multinational companies include charitable activities in their corporate responsibility programmes. This is one way how companies acknowledge their role in society, and their duty to give something back. Charitable activities which are led by corporations show that capitalism allows space for charity. My aim in this paper is to challenge the idea that charity and the idea of the capitalism market are compatible.

If charity is the transfer from those who have to those who have not on the basis of altruism, and if capitalism is founded on the exchange of goods for profit-making, then I argue charity is not compatible with the idea of the capitalist market. Following from this, charity cannot be seen as a useful transfer by the advocates of the capitalist market, because they hold that you cannot give anything to those who cannot give something back to you. I propose that the capitalist market ideal can maintain its links with charity, if advocates of the capitalist market accept the principle of stewardship. According to this principle, corporations see themselves as stewards of people’s wealth and they undertake the obligation to take care of it, that is to invest it for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Paul, Geoff, St Mary’s University College, UK, Forced Charity: The viability of the Mandatory Indonesian CSR Model

This paper examines the contemporary debate on the mandatory nature of CSR activities. It takes as a case study the example of Indonesia, the first country in the world to introduce mandatory CSR legislation. It presents an historical perspective of the origins and economic, environmental and social consequences of Law 40/2007 and Law 47/2012. This legislation required domestic organisations ‘engaged in natural resources or those in business in connection with natural resources’ to fund and undertake Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility” (CSER) activities. It will present arguments demonstrating the plausibility of mandatory CSR initiatives.

Pemberton, Charlie, University of Manchester, UK, Homeless People, Social Exclusion and John Milbank on Charity

In this paper I want to address two issues. The first is that homeless people are ‘socially excluded’; marginal to mainstream society and in need of transformation or re-integration. The second is the common presumption that this is an incorporation that charities, to various degrees, can engender. For ‘Third-Way’ and ‘Big Society’ one can now read ‘Blue Labour’ and ‘Red Tory’, all of which endorse the charitable sphere as an emancipatory zone.

Using the work of the theologian John Milbank I will contend that both the obviousness of charitable solutions and the presumed location of homeless people (excluded) stem from a common root – a widespread social imaginary, or social topography – that envisions our society as fundamentally riven by difference. In short: political atomism. This modern account of public space, which Milbank describes as ‘univocal’ or ‘secular’ (and I will briefly outline), sources and sustains the organisation of our bodies (the hard working and home buying subject vs feckless and idle degenerate) and gives coherence to our altruistic proclivities and activities.

However as the paper progresses I will also suggest that this topography has its aporias. Firstly, construing homeless people as ‘excluded’ fails to account for the way homeless people are utilised as a way of defining those in the center. In an analogous fashion altrusim, I will contend, needs poverty as the occasion of its demonstration. In both cases the homeless are not external but overdetermined; not too far, but too close.

Poetzsch, Janelle, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, What’s Wrong with Corporate Charity?

This paper deals with the political implications of corporate charity and aims to highlight some of its basic problems. I will claim that corporate charity undermines the basic social principles of justice and impartiality. These are susceptible to both the economic interests as well as the financial power of corporate actors. For one, firms can increase their social acceptance by charitable actions, making it thus easier to influence public debates in their favour and to silence possible critics. Second, given the economic interests of corporations, they will support mainly causes which either align with their business goals or have the effect to advance their reputation. Areas which don’t have such potential are therefore likely to dry out. Thirdly, due to the financial power of corporations, their decision on whom or what to support comes up to setting a political agenda. Consequently, corporate charity enables business to translate its financial power into political influence. Concluding, I shall argue that not only society, but also charity itself is negatively affected by corporate charity: In being re-casted according to the needs and aims of business, charity loses its distinctive characteristic of selflessness.

Porroche, Ana and de Michele, Grazia, University of Sussex, UK, Workshop: What Does Politics Have to Do with Breast Cancer Charity?

We are proposing an interactive workshop on the politics of the breast cancer charity industry. The workshop will examine current misleading practices of the industry. Using examples of real advertisements for awareness and breast cancer merchandising (in the name awareness and empowerment), participants will be asked to feedback on what the advert/campaign is promoting, how they feel about the images, wording used and messages, and whether they are likely to buy a pink ribbon merchandising or participate in the campaigns.

After discussion the participants will be asked to debate the meaning of empowerment and will examine two interrelated controversial problems raising from this (mis)appropriation of the concept: the ‘political’ and the ‘ethical’. The first is about the goal of these campaigns: what do they understand as empowerment? Who benefits from all this pink paraphernalia? The second is concerned with the format of these campaigns. Should the end justify the means? What strategies do they use to ‘empower women through awareness’? This workshop aims to make participants think through the political and ethical aspects of breast cancer, and their interconnection with gender norms.

Lovell, Jaqui, Edge Fund, The Politics of Charity Funding

However impressive the amounts given to UK charities may be, it’s long been the case that for small organisations, finding funds is tortuous. Tax structures and legal restrictions based on charitable status create disincentives to funding small start-ups, especially those whose aims may be overtly to push for systemic change rather than simply alleviate suffering, or whose background has never been to engage with legal or quasi-governmental structures. For example, Roma groups campaigning for better provision of sites may well distrust the very power structures they are trying to influence, and may not have a high level of conventional literacy that would enable them to negotiate regulatory structures. The system tends to maintain the status quo.

Edge Fund was set up to support grassroots groups and to draw on their amazing organisational abilities, while recognising that funders, even with the best will, can impose their own ideas of appropriate activities to support. The Fund’s structure from the start was intended to devolve power from donors. Its members, who include donors, organisers and people from groups that have been supported, together develop a broad consensus on whom to fund and how to run the organisation. Accessibility, transparency, and accountability are built into the design, and have helped the group evolve over its first 18 months. Inspired by similar groups abroad, Edge is unique in the UK.

Reynolds, Paul, Edge Hill University, UK, The Ethical Implications of Practising Charity: Considering Performative Practice

There are some fairly compelling arguments as to the depoliticised, myopic, emotive rather than analytic and corporatised problems of charity as it is organised and institutionally and culturally constituted in contemporary societies. If charities are persuasively understood to be symptom-focused ‘band aids’ whose interests and agenda are alternately naive and compromised, why should we in any way engage with them even if some charities might do some good? Particularly if they occupy a space that should be occupied by something else, like an ethico-political commitment to community and each other?

The question becomes more complex, however, when we move from the political-institutional and socio-political engagement with charities to consider the micro-politics and self-constitutive aspects of charitable giving and activity. In this offering I want to explore the question of charity from an ontological position that privileges practice and the performance of practice. To what extent might we make an argument that the practice of charity is important as a means of connecting and reconnecting with others and in the self- constitutive making and disciplining of ourselves to engage in ethical social practices not through the assumption of conceptual schema but the need to practice imminently, inter-personally and embodiedly? Drawing from different insights offered by readings of Aristotle, Spinoza and Marx, i want to argue that placing practice at the ontological centre of human life and acknowledging the bodily constitution of humans and the questions of imminence/ transcendence and creativity/ ‘sleepwalking’ (not to mention the wretchedness of the human condition) has consequences for how we understand charitable giving and the relationship between micro-intersubjectivities and broader cultural and institutional questions in the making of a politics of solidarity and giving in community.

Reinhardt, Karoline, Eberhard Karls University, Germany, Charity and Philanthropy in Kant’s Moral and Political Philosophy

Kant treats charity in its “ethical” as well as in its “political” dimension: For him, charity is a duty of individuals, but it also plays a role as a social institution. It is less clear, however, how these two dimensions interconnect. Furthermore, Kant also uses the term “philanthropy” sometimes as a synonym to “charity”, sometimes in a pejorative sense – which complicates matters. What makes Kant particular interesting for the current debate on charity is that he advocates charity as a duty of virtue in the “ethical” realm, but is also sceptical about charity and philanthropy as duties of right in the “political” sphere. In my paper, I will give a short introduction to Kant’s ideas on charity and philanthropy. Some of my guiding questions will be: In which contexts does he use the term charity and in which context does he use philanthropy? What is, in his eyes, the relation of these two? And, finally, how does the ethical dimension of charity and philanthropy interconnect with the political dimension? I will, then, conclude with some general considerations on the implications my results have on the current debate on charity.

Sanghera, Balihar, University of Kent, UK, Lay Ethics, Distortions and Charitable Giving

This paper will provide an understanding of the ordinary ethics that underpins charitable giving, by contextualising charity’s significance in relation to individuals’ life projects. I will argue that individuals are evaluative beings, who navigate their way through the world in relation to dominant moral concerns. I will draw upon the works of Luc Boltanski, Adam Smith, Andrew Sayer, Margaret Archer and Charles Taylor, who all provide a powerful counter-point to a Bourdieusian perspective, which tends to be suspicious of disinterested judgements and actions.

The paper draws upon an ESRC-funded investigation into charitable giving that involved 41 semi-structured interviews with men and women of working and middle class social backgrounds, mostly white interviewees. Based upon this empirical work, I will show how charitable giving relates to individual moral concerns and life projects, such as family, career and social justice. Charity is viewed not in isolation of personal reflexivity and moral concerns. I will suggest that there are three modes of moral reflexivity that have various implications for charity, moral obligations and civil society. First, moral conventionalists, who value familial and social networks, use charity events as an opportunity to socialise and to have fun. Second, moral individualists, who are strongly committed to work and career, view charitable practices as performative acts that demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Third, moral critics are deeply committed to charitable causes, motivated by strongly held values and beliefs, which offer alternative visions for society.

Sangkuhl, Elfriede, University of Western Sydney, Australia, Tax Deductibility of Charitable Donations

This paper confines itself to considering the impact on democracy of tax deductible donations made wealthy corporations and individuals for what might be characterised as philanthropic purposes. A recent example, in Australia, of how a tax deductible donation by a philanthropist diverted government revenues in support of a private passion will be used to illustrate how tax deductible charitable donations operate to distort democracy.

In 2010, an investment banker, Simon Mordant, and his family, donated $15million to add a new wing on to the Museum of Contemporary Art (‘the MCA’) in Sydney. Making such a donation to a worthy cause is an admirable thing to do. However the consequence of this gift, supported by the Australian income tax legislation, was less than admirable. This is because:

  • The tax deductible gift gave the donor a tax deduction for the gift being made. Rather than the democratically elected government deciding the spending priorities of government, the spending priorities of individuals are subsidised by the democratically elected government.
  • The donation came with an explicit threat to the NSW state government and the Federal government. Mordant pledged $15 million on condition that government funding was sufficient.

As a result the federal government pledged $13 million and the NSW government pledged another $13 million.Schlossarek, Martin

Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, Microfinance: Balancing on theBusiness-Charity Border

Millions of people in developing countries have been given access to formal financial services through microfinance institutions (MFIs). Leaders of the microfinance movement claim poverty reduction as their mission and financial sustainability as a key essence for sufficient scope of assistance provided by MFIs to people in the developing world. However, some MFIs have drifted from the mission stated above as a result of excessive focus on financial sustainability. Symptoms of mission drift in the microfinance sector include delivering services primarily to non-poor people or charging high interest rates. This paper argues that in this situation it is necessary to distinguish charitable MFIs with clear social mission from the others. This distinction can significantly influence decision- making of potential clients in developing countries as well as decision-making of donors in the developed world. In the first part, the meaning of the word charity is discussed and explored in the context of microfinance. In the second part, comparative analysis of distinction effects on various stakeholders is made. In the last but most crucial section, criteria for the identification of charitable MFIs based on their legal status and conditions under which their services are provided are suggested.

Topolski, Anya, University of Leuven, Belgium, Charity and Justice

The focus of my paper is on the relationship between charity and justice. I explore this relationship by means of a conceptual history of the Hebraic term tzedakah that can be translated as both justiceand charity, where the conjunction ‘and’ creates a hendiadys (a two for one or figure of twines in rhetoric) such that both nouns express a single idea (often used to add force to an idea). I focus on the fundamental idea that charity is constitutive of justice (and vice-versa), where tzedakah is a responsibility, ‘the right thing to do’ (being fair). In this view, the notions of charity and justice cannot be separated. This is in contrast to the additive notion of charity that is currently dominant, which implies that a separation is possible. The latter is often assumed in Christian notions of charity, such as those recuperated by the public-private distinction introduced as means to separate church and state, which associate charity with love, kindness and generosity (at its extreme, a form of altruism). The claim I seek to explore in this paper is that the separation of the notion of charity from that of justice comes at the cost of collective social responsibility.

Wemyss, Rachel, Independent Scholar, Is Social Inclusion an Ethical Charitable Aim?

This paper will analyse the ethics and politics of social inclusion as a charitable aim. Social inclusion defined most widely involves improving equality of access to education, employment, adequate housing and healthcare and participation in democracy and the public sphere. However, in the context of neoliberalism social inclusion is too often reduced to access to the labour market. Whilst social inclusion projects may have a critical analysis of the exclusionary practices that result in social exclusion, the ability of charities to address the root causes of social exclusion is impeded by short-term funding arrangements based on the condition that prescribed project outcomes will be delivered. Exploring to what extent social inclusion projects become uncritical projects of assimilation, this paper will question whether it is ethical to help marginalised communities become ‘included’ in a society structurally organised to exclude.

Wilson, Donald, Kansas State University, US, Balancing Commitments

There is a familiar problem in moral theories that recognize positive obligations to help others related to the practical room these obligations leave for ordinary life and the risk that open-ended obligations to help others will consume our lives and resources. Responding to this problem, deontologists have tended to emphasize the idea of limits on positive obligations but are often unsatisfactorily vague about the nature and extent of these limits. This paper focuses on Barbara Herman’s distinctive Kantian response to this problem. Herman claims that we are morally entitled to prioritize our own concerns over even the dire needs of strangers and that we need not think of ourselves as required to weigh or balance the relative priorities of different moral considerations. I argue that Herman’s merely structural changes do not obviate the need for weighing interests and that the critic’s problem cannot be solved without doing so. I then argue that other aspects of Kant’s discussion of duties of virtue suggest a useful metric we can use in weighing competing interests and priorities and that combining this metric with aspects of Herman’s account offers us a more robust and promising response to the critic’s concerns.


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