Martha Nussbaum: I think it’s a surrogate immortality, in a lot of cases. People realize that their life is ending, but they want some imprint on the world that is identified with them. Of course, that can take many forms, not just giving money away. It can take the form of building a building, or whatever. But I think the reason that givers to institutions so often want to name a building is they really want their imprint to be on the world in some kind of durable, etched-in-stone way. They don’t want to be forgotten.
Olen: And what are the attractions of giving money away while alive?
Levmore: It’s unsurprising when you see the Bill Gateses of the world give away a lot of money while they’re still alive, because you can watch what people do with it—you can see who’s doing and a good job and a bad job, and then give more to some places than to others, and so forth.