Liberalism, Philanthropy, and Praxis: Realigning the Philanthropy of the Republic and the Social Teaching of the Church

By Rob Atkinson
April 30, 2016


This Article seeks a common ground for theists of the Abrahamist religious faiths and agnostics in the Socratic philosophical tradition on the role that the liberal state should play in advancing the two coordinate aims of traditional philanthropy:  helping society’s least well off and advancing the highest forms of human excellence.  It focuses particularly on Abrahamists who are orthodox Catholics and Socratics who are left-liberals, distinguishing their broad views on the liberal state’s proper philanthropic role from the far narrower views of libertarians and other right-liberals.  It concludes that adherents of Catholic Social Teaching and advocates of secular left-liberalism can conscientiously work together toward a far greater governmental role in advancing philanthropy than is currently reflected in the United States’s fiscal policy.  To do otherwise is to impose a most perverse tax on both our society’s most needy and its most generous.  That, one hopes, is not who we are.