The scope of this seminar is as broad as the idea of the voluntary society itself, with particular attention to the American version thereof. The central question is the extent to which, and how, a large number of people of varying ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural backgrounds, living together in a country, state or city, organized into representative governments, should - can - rely on voluntary action by willing citizens to fulfill both their own individual needs and the needs of the respective communities in which they live. To explore that question requires us to examine alternative allocations of responsibility for solving particular problems - voluntary, not-for-profit, for-profit, joint public/private, publicly encouraged/subsidized, and publicly coerced - along with examples, reasons, and theories for particular forms of organization. We will need to probe what it is that motivates donors and volunteers to give money and time, and to assess not only their effectiveness in solving problems but also the comparative praiseworthiness of their respective motives. Charitable and corporate foundations, as well as the tax-exempt organizations to which they and other donors contribute, are part of the inquiry, especially as to their goals, decision rules, governance, and public accountability. We will try to compare the experience of other countries with that of the U.S. in these regards, and we will continuously examine the framework of public policy that embodies public judgments about the desirability of allocating some part of the burden of social problem-solving to voluntary organizations alone or in partnership with public organizations, as well as the tax policies that are crafted to facilitate such problem-solving policies. Cross-listed with PPS280S.
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