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Usury Redux: Notes on The Scholastic Analysis of Usury by John T. Noonan


  • Joseph Burke

    () (Department of Economics, Ave Maria University)


I summarize the key points of the scholastic theory of usury following The Scholastic Analysis of Usury by John T. Noonan. Usury is the sin of taking interest on a loan without a just title. According to Scholastic moral theology, interest on loans may be justified by the extrinsic titles to damnum emergens and lucrum cessans, i.e. for losses incurred or for profits lost. Implications of this teaching are discussed with regard to other contracts, such as partnerships, the census contract, bills of exchange and “dry exchange,” insurance contracts, and the so-called triple contract. Also discussed are the changes in the practices of confessors that occurred between 1822 and 1836.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Burke, 2009. "Usury Redux: Notes on The Scholastic Analysis of Usury by John T. Noonan," Working Papers 0901, Ave Maria University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:avm:wpaper:0901
    Note: Corrected 2011-11-15. The title of the book was referrred to as Scholastic Theory of Usury in earlier version. Correct titile is Scholastic Analysis of Usury.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joseph Burke, 2008. "Money for Nothing: The Sin of Usury," Working Papers 0801, Ave Maria University, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item


    usury; commutative justice; Catholicism;

    JEL classification:

    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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