Philanthropy and Human Rights in Business Ethics

Øjvind Larsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Philanthropy has become a concern which is taken seriously in the Western world. Normal people give donations and volunteer on a large scale within the institutions of civil society. This is the case for business corporations as well in the big global CSR movement, which has now been integrated in the UN Global Compact.
Philanthropy has many dimensions; these include ethical, juridical, political, economic and cultural dimensions. In the last years, a lot has been written about philanthropy from a political, sociological, anthropological and managerial perspective. However, an essential question remains: what does philanthropy mean?
In a Greek context, philanthropy is connected to a friendly act towards one’s owns close connections such as family or fellow citizens, and normally utilized to promote one’s own prestige in the city-state. In Roman context, universal humanism, humanitas, was invented. This universal perspective was also supported by Christianity. It is this universal concept of philanthropy which is the foundation for the different philanthropic traditions in Germany, England, France and USA. In each tradition is developed special features of the concept of philanthropy. The four traditions are summarized in the UN universal human rights, which has become the common normative reference for global philanthropy.
In this way philanthropy has become, in a modern sense, a charitable act with the aim to promote human happiness independent of gender, class, race, etc. This is the genealogy of the modern understanding of philanthropy, which will be developed in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives on Philosophy of Management and Business Ethics : Including a Special Section on Business and Human Rights
EditorsJacob Dahl Rendtorff
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)9783319469720
ISBN (Electronic)9783319469737
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventEBEN Research Conference 2015: Philosophical Foundations of Business Ethics - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 1 Oct 20153 Oct 2015


ConferenceEBEN Research Conference 2015
LocationCopenhagen Business School
Internet address
SeriesStudies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy

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