Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy, and How to Redeem It
Join us for a conversation with Chiara Cordelli and Rob Reich, jointly sponsored by Stanford Continuing Studies and the University of Chicago Graham School.
About the Event
Is philanthropy a threat to our democracy? Are there political risks hidden in what first looks like altruism? In this public event, two political scientists—Chiara Cordelli (University of Chicago) and Rob Reich (Stanford)—will explore how governments have outsourced public functions to private entities, leaving philanthropy to fund important services like education and health care. This has allowed Big Philanthropy, financed by an affluent elite, to gain significant power over public policy, not to mention lavish tax advantages that further contribute to social inequality.
The respective authors of The Privatized State and Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better, Cordelli and Reich will explore the hidden social costs of modern philanthropy, and then consider how philanthropy can be redeemed. When properly structured, they contend, philanthropy can play a crucial role in supporting a strong liberal democracy. Throughout this conversation, they will pay particular attention to how the redemption of philanthropy depends on putting constraints on privatization, democratizing the governance of philanthropic entities, and changing existing tax rules.
Associate Professor of Political Science
Chiara Cordelli is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Her main areas of research are social and political philosophy, with a particular focus on theories of distributive justice, political legitimacy, normative defenses of the state, and the public/private distinction in liberal theory. She is the author of The Privatized State (Princeton University Press, 2020), which was awarded the 2021 ECPR political theory prize for best first book in political theory. She is also the co-editor of, and a contributor to, Philanthropy in Democratic Societies (University of Chicago Press, 2016).
Cordelli’s articles and contributions to symposia appeared in the American Political Science Review, Ethics, Journal of Political Philosophy, Journal of Politics, Political Theory, Political Studies, British Journal of Political Science, Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, and Political Studies Review, as well as in several edited volumes, including NOMOS. One of her articles, “Justice as Fairness and Relational Resources” was included in the Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles published in philosophy in 2015 and her chapter “Philanthropy as a Duty of Reparative Justice” won the 2018 Review of Politics Award.
Cordelli earned her BA in philosophy from the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” where she studied aesthetics, critical theory, and the history of political thought. During her MA at University College London, she became interested in analytic philosophy. She earned her PhD in political philosophy from UCL in 2011. Before joining Chicago in 2015, she was a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University (2011-2013) and a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Exeter, UK (2013-2015). She held visiting positions at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in D.C. (2009-2010), the Center for Human Values at Princeton (2014-2015), the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (2012-2013), the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard (2017-2018) and the LIER center at EHESS in Paris (2021-2022).
Professor of Political Science and, by courtesy, of Education; Co-director, Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society
Rob Reich is professor of political science and, by courtesy, professor of philosophy and at the Graduate School of Education, at Stanford University. He is the director of the Center for Ethics in Society and co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review), and associate director of the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. His scholarship in political theory engages with the work of social scientists and engineers. His next book is Digital Technology and Democratic Theory (edited with Helene Landemore and Lucy Bernholz, University of Chicago Press). He is the author of Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better (Princeton University Press, 2018) and Philanthropy in Democratic Societies: History, Institutions, Values (edited with Chiara Cordelli and Lucy Bernholz, University of Chicago Press, 2016). He is also the author of several books on education: Bridging Liberalism and Multiculturalism in American Education (University of Chicago Press, 2002) and Education, Justice, and Democracy (edited with Danielle Allen, University of Chicago Press, 2013).
Reich is the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the Walter J. Gores award, Stanford’s highest honor for teaching. He was a sixth grade teacher at Rusk Elementary School in Houston, Texas before attending graduate school. He is a board member of the magazine Boston Review, of Giving Tuesday, and at the Spencer Foundation.