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Pour en finir avec l'usure. L'enjeu de la controverse entre Adam Smith et Jeremy Bentham

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  • Sandrine Leloup

Abstract

[fre] Cet article se propose de revenir sur la controverse entre Smith et Bentham à propos de la nécessité du maintien des lois sur l'usure. À la différence des interprétations traditionnelles qui en fournissent une explication purement économique, il s'agit de comprendre cette divergence à partir de la psychologie des acteurs qui interviennent sur le marché du crédit. Smith et Bentham décrivent en effet, de manière radicalement différente, les mécanismes psychologiques qui poussent ces acteurs à agir - et ce, bien qu'ils emploient des terminologies identiques pour les désigner ; ils ne peuvent donc se comprendre (partie I). En mettant ainsi l'accent sur la spécificité des hypothèses psychologiques retenues par chacun des auteurs, on met en évidence une autre spécificité qui concerne le déroulement des interactions marchandes entre les acteurs du marché du crédit (partie II). On conclut alors que ni le maintien des lois sur l'usure pour Smith, ni leur abolition pour Bentham ne constituent une solution définitive au problème de la coordination entre le prêteur et l'emprunteur. [eng] Smith and Bentham on usury laws: the terms of the debate This article deals with the controversy between Smith and Bentham on usury laws. Unlike traditional interpretations that provide strictly economic explanations, it is argued that the differences between the two authors rest on a divergence concerning the psychology of the actors involved in the credit market. Although Smith and Bentham used the same words to point them out these psychological mechanisms, they described them quite differently, so that the debate could hardly make sense (pan I). Emphasising the specificity of each author's psychological hypothesis, an other specificity, concerning trading interactions between actors on the market of credit is brought to the fore (part II). Therefore, I conclude that neither the upholding of usury laws - for Smith -, nor their abolition - for Bentham -, give a final solution to the problem of coordination between lender and borrower.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandrine Leloup, 2000. "Pour en finir avec l'usure. L'enjeu de la controverse entre Adam Smith et Jeremy Bentham," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 51(4), pages 913-936.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:reveco:reco_0035-2764_2000_num_51_4_410561 Note: DOI:10.3406/reco.2000.410561
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    6. María Inés Terra & Marcel Vaillant, 1998. "Política comercial y política de infraestructura: un ejercicio de simulación de los impactos regionales en el MERCOSUR," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0797, Department of Economics - dECON.
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