In this period philanthropy stood highest in esteem. The Times moderated its stance. Newspapers praised Britain as a philanthropic nation. People wrote of their government as philanthropic in its foreign policy. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert devoted time and resources to much-praised philanthropy. But there were worries. The Social Science Association, with which philanthropy was at first closely aligned, distanced itself from it and became the voice for social reform. The Charity Organisation Society promoted scientific charity; its secretary, C. S. Loch, did not disguise his mistrust of philanthropy. Criticism was still unrelenting: ‘practical philanthropy’ was admired, but too much of it, according to the critics, was ‘spurious’ or ‘pseudo’. In 5 per cent philanthropy there was an attempt to help resolve housing problems but it came to be seen as a failure. Philanthropy was associated with the multiplicity of voluntary organisations to help the needy but they had spawned a body of ‘professional philanthropists’, who ran these organisations and were subjected to ridicule and dislike. Effeminacy became even more linked to philanthropy. In the late 1860s and early 1870s, three books by the era’s most eminent novelists had philanthropy directly in their sights: Middlemarch, The Moonstone and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

in The reputation of philanthropy since 1750
Local societies in early medieval Europe

This is an exploration of social cohesion in rural settlements in western Europe in the period 700–1050 CE, and of the extent to which settlements, or districts, constituted units of social organisation. It focuses on the interactions, interconnections and networks of people who lived side by side – neighbours. Drawing evidence from most of the current western European countries, the book plots and interrogates the very different practices of this wide range of regions in a systematically comparative framework, offering a new approach to well-known problems of the early Middle Ages by bringing together expertise from different national traditions. It examines how people in the localities of the early medieval West worked together in pursuit of shared goals beyond the level of the household, and how (and whether) they formed their own groups through that collective action. It considers the variety of local responses to the supra-local agents of landlords and rulers and the impact, such as it was, of those agents on the small-scale residential group. It also assesses the impact on local societies of the values, instructions and demands of the wider literate world of Christianity, as delivered by local priests.

Searching for the local

There is no evidence that the residential group was the only group to which local people belonged. The locality, understood as a zone of the order of 10 km diameter, with a multiplicity of settlements, was a meaningful unit of operation, although the scale of association in northern Iberia appears to have been wider. Some members of some settlements engaged in collective agricultural practices, and some households joined together to take legal action, but there is no reason to suppose that all members of any one settlement regularly did so. There is little awareness of belonging to a group, although the integration of immigrants and the exclusion of individuals are well evidenced. There cannot have been a shared view of social cohesion in every settlement or every locality. The same Christian message was heard by every flock, meaning that the sphere of responsibility of the local priest defined a community of a kind, although some people clearly stole from their neighbours, as others fought or assaulted or raped them. The number of officers within range, and the frequency of their visits, must have made a difference to the lives of peasant farmers: so, life in a farming settlement in northern Iberia must have been free from the micro-management of those in the Carolingian Empire.

in Neighbours and strangers

In her response to Rainer Forst’s lead essay, Melissa S. Williams interrogates Forst’s account of morality through an empirical and historical analysis of the actions by which human agents establish moral and just relations between themselves. She challenges the idea that all moral practices of reciprocal respect can be reduced to practices of justification. ‘Prefigurative’ practices such as those employed by Gandhi and various Indigenous movements entail a turning away from a politics of justification and critique addressed to the dominating agent, and a turning towards those whose solidarity one seeks in constructing and enacting an alternative ethical form of life based on relationships of egalitarian reciprocity. Such approaches begin from the understanding that practices of reason, and especially social practices of reason-giving and reason-demanding, and of recognising others as rational subjects, are never innocent of power relations. Forst may respond that his theory acknowledges the role of power in constituting the subjects who are capable of recognising one another as equal agents of justification, but this leaves unanswered the question of what agents are doing when they interrupt discursive practices of justification by substituting non-discursive performances of egalitarian respect within cooperative relationship.

in Toleration, power and the right to justification

Daniel Weinstock frames his response to Rainer Forst within debates over ideal and non-ideal political theory. If any political concept reflects non-ideal political circumstances, he argues, it is toleration, since it emerges from a context in which people not only disagree about how their common lives should be organised, but are willing to coerce others into seeing things their way. Turning to Forst’s work, Weinstock provides a brief account of the overall argument, highlighting the main structural elements of the view Forst defends. He then identifies a puzzling feature in that account, one that facilitates the conflation of non-ideal and ideal toleration. In the third and fourth sections of the chapter, Weinstock describes two families of reasons that might underpin a non-ideal conception of toleration, one that is more attuned than Forst’s is to self-restraint as a constitutive ingredient of the structural account of toleration. The first of these families of reasons is consequentialist in nature, while the second emphasises the fallibilism of the kind of human judgement that is central to Forst’s own way of thinking about toleration. Finally, Weinstock offers some reasons for thinking that these two conceptions of toleration ought to be considered distinct, rather than, as Forst thinks, examples of the non-ideal kind drawing its normative justification from its approximation of the ideal kind.

in Toleration, power and the right to justification

This chapter focuses on the first legal case to pursue recognition of a same-sex marriage. The case was launched by Irish citizens Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan, who were married in British Columbia after the legislation was implemented there. This section details how this case moved from a request to the Revenue Commissioners to be assessed as a married couple to a High Court case.

in The history of marriage equality in Ireland

By the outbreak of the First World War there was talk of the services offered by the state working in harmony with voluntary organisations. It was notable in such discussions that ‘philanthropy’ was rarely mentioned. In the war itself there was a huge increase in the number of charities and some attempt to give them a voice in the National Council of Social Service. Post-war the tone of discussion changed in ways damaging to philanthropy. It was seen as ‘Victorian’, condescending. The new language was about citizenship, democracy, social work, voluntary organisations and volunteering. But if philanthropy was in many ways redundant there were attempts to revive it, most notably by Elizabeth Macadam in The New Philanthropy (1934) and by William Beveridge in Voluntary Action (1948). Neither had much impact. It was easy to imagine that philanthropy and philanthropists would soon belong to the past. Revival came with growing criticism of the welfare state and, from the 1970s, the renewed confidence in markets that led eventually to the implementation of a neoliberal agenda. It was less a distrust of markets, more the accumulation of vast individual wealth that markets had made possible, that opened the door for another ‘new philanthropy’.

in The reputation of philanthropy since 1750

The introduction of civil partnerships in Ireland is discussed. This chapter further examines one of the major concerns for marriage equality campaigners who highlighted that civil partnerships did not offer equivalent rights to civil marriage, especially in relation to the children of such partnerships.

in The history of marriage equality in Ireland

Patchen Markell begins his response to Rainer Forst by expressing a concern about the narrowness of Forst’s commitment to the idea of human beings as ‘justifying, reason-giving beings’. Building on the intuition that a more capacious sense of critical theory’s modes of engagement with the world is called for, Markell chooses to focus on Forst’s conception of power. For Forst, power is not just a simple dyadic relation between one agent and another: there is also such a thing as an ‘order of power’, which is also an ‘order of justification’. This involves the patterning of relations among persons in a society by virtue of the acceptance of certain ‘narratives of justification’, sometimes including patterns of domination and subordination. As Forst acknowledges, one of the central tasks of critical theory is to identify, analyse and criticise such situations. But practices of justification themselves may be implicated in relations of domination, since ‘justification’ is an abstraction from the concrete social practices in which it takes place. Forst is aware that criticism of social relations can be foreclosed by people being socialised into a tacit belief in the justified character of those relations. However, he fails to acknowledge that, while the demand for justification is an important part of the critique of these phenomena, in many cases it must be accompanied or preceded by a struggle to reconfigure the space of appearance, to bring these phenomena to attention or to alter the terms of their public representation.

in Toleration, power and the right to justification

David Owen opens his response by observing that, for Rainer Forst, the first question of justice is the question of power. In any scheme of rule, what matters is that those subject to power are able to contest and shape the relations of rule by demanding justifications. Moving on to Forst's concept of morality, Owen observes that this is rooted in a Wittgenstenian 'seeing' of other human beings as human. He agrees with Forst about this fundamental form of moral recognition, but charges Forst with making it appear that seeing another biological human being as human means seeing all other biological human beings as human. Owen also argues that, contrary to what Forst suggests, overcoming soulblindness is not a matter of being provided with additional facts or normative reasons but of 'soul-dawning', of coming to see an aspect that one could not see before. The basis of Forst's error here is his treatment of the power exerted by structures (such as patriarchy) that configure the general space of reasons. In separating this area from his broader discussion of power, Forst embraces a narrower definition in which justificatory reasons are the normative medium though which power is exercised. Owen ends his response by reflecting on Bernard Williams's distinction between justification and vindication, and whether Forst's account is capable of explaining how far political violence may be used in the pursuit of establishing the right to justification.

in Toleration, power and the right to justification