Political Theory

Charity and the Welfare State


With philanthropists as its targeted group of conferees, this three-session conference explored human motivations for charity and the impact of the rise of the welfare state on charitable and philanthropic enterprises.


From Liberty Fund

The Theory of Moral Sentiments

by By Adam Smith
Edited by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith’s first and in his own mind most important work, outlines his view of proper conduct and the institutions and sentiments that make men virtuous. Here he develops his doctrine of the impartial spectator, whose hypothetical disinterested judgment we must use to distinguish right from…

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Additional Readings

Beito, David T., Peter Gordon, and Alexander Tabarrok, eds. The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

Beito, David T. From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Mandeville, Bernard. The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, Volume I. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1988.

Olasky, Marvin. The Tragedy of American Compassion. Lanham: Regnery Publishing, 1992.

Pallotta, Dan. “Why Can’t We Sell Charity Like We Sell Perfume?” Wall Street Journal, U.S. edition (September 15, 2012): C1.

Swift, Jonathan, “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of poor People in Ireland, from being a Burden to their Parents or Country; and for making them beneficial to the Publick” In The Basic Writings of Jonathan Swift, edited by Claude Rawson, 345-354. New York: Modern Library, 2002.

Wilby, Peter. “Private Charity is Never a Substitute for Public Welfare.” The Guardian (published December 31, 2010 and amended January 6, 2011): 1-2.