In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley. pp. 738-744 (2013)

Garrett Cullity
Australian National University
In the tradition of Western ethical thought, “charity” refers to two ideas. Although now distinguishable, they are historically connected. The first is an attitude: the attitude of selfless love which is treated in the Christian tradition as the most fundamental of the virtues. The second is a kind of action: the action of rendering material assistance to those who need it. Derivative from this second idea is the current use of “a charity” to refer to an organization through which such assistance is coordinated.
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