2014 – Philanthropy and the Economic Way of Thinking

November 6-8, 2014
Troy University, Alabama

in conjunction with


The Philanthropic Enterprise and the Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University are convening a conference on “Philanthropy and the Economic Way of Thinking.”  The goal of this conference is to deepen our understanding of the relationships among philanthropic enterprises, the economy, and public policy.

Empowering, Not Enfeebling:  Beyond the “‘Market v. State'” Dichotomy
Keynote Address
Friday, November 7, 2014
6:00 p.m.

Munger Head Shot

Dr. Michael C. Munger
Professor of Political Science, Public Policy, and Economics
Duke University

What is philanthropy’s role in the political economy of a free society?   In the context of contemporary political and policy debate, the argument for liberty is often reduced to an argument for “markets.”  This dichotomy, however, is a rhetorical straitjacket, and in any case it’s not the best argument for liberty. The market vs. State dichotomy was dreamed up by German sociologists in the nineteenth century, and it leaves little room for a robust conceptual and institutional framework for charitable behavior and philanthropic enterprises.  To think more clearly about the role of philanthropy in a free society, we have to begin by understanding the myriad benefits of voluntary private cooperation.  Markets are part of that, a useful way of achieving prosperity, but a variety of other emergent social arrangements—more properly viewed under the rubric “society”—are also crucial for prosperity.