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


  • Sandrine Leloup


[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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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Blomström, Magnus & Kokko, Ari, 1997. "Regional Integration and Foreign Direct Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 1659, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Antoine Bouët, 2000. "La mesure des protections commerciales nationales," Working Papers 2000-15, CEPII research center.
    3. Norman, George & Motta, Massimo, 1993. "Eastern European Economic Integration and Foreign Direct Investment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(4), pages 483-507, Winter.
    4. María Inés Terra & Adriana Gigliotti, 1994. "Mercosur: localización de la producción. Un modelo de geografía económica," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0794, Department of Economics - dECON.
    5. Motta, Massimo & Norman, George, 1996. "Does Economic Integration Cause Foreign Direct Investment?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(4), pages 757-783, November.
    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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