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The Future of Philanthropy: Questioning Today’s Orthodoxies, Re-Affirming Yesterday’s Foundations

54 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2011  

Rob Atkinson Jr.

Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: September 8, 2011

Abstract

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 West’s 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.

Suggested Citation

Atkinson, Rob, The Future of Philanthropy: Questioning Today’s Orthodoxies, Re-Affirming Yesterday’s Foundations (September 8, 2011). FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 542. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1924479 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1924479

Rob E. Atkinson Jr. (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States
850-644-4503 (Phone)

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