Democratic altruism

Ana Tanasoca, John S. Dryzek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Transnational altruism comes in many forms, prominently among them private giving through charitable NGOs. This paper focuses on the altruistic actions of those giving to charitable organizations and especially on the subsequent altruistic choices of those second-order, donor-organizations. Leaving choices about how donated money should be used exclusively in the hands of donors is morally problematic in various ways. This is why transnational relationships that involve private giving from rich to poor should be democratized. We propose thus a new moral principle for guiding altruistic behavior: democratic altruism. We develop our argument by focusing on the moral powers and formative agency that donors exercise through their charitable behavior, in particular through their choice to support particular types of aid or organizations. We argue that if and when donors give, they should do so in a way that allows the poor to exercise formative agency as well, in decisions over how donated resources should be used on the ground.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-230
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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