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Introduction.

The intimate connection between business and ethics can hardly be expressed any better than by the following, late medieval image of the spiritual journey to God:
 We are like a merchant on his way to the market, carrying with him
 a bag full of gold money for which to buy splendid and expensive
 goods. Yet, out of the blue, a thief turns up and snatches away his
 purse. The merchant is left desperate. The human condition is the
 same. The money with which God has endowed us are the virtues: They
 enable us to buy eternal life. But then, all of a sudden, the devil
 appears. He tears apart our heart and the precious coin of virtue
 is stolen away. We are left outside from paradise. (2)


Next to pointing out the analogy between the risks of entrepreneurship and the perils threatening people who strive to gain eternal life, this metaphor throws light on the enterprise many scholars in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century scholasticism undertook to discuss the high-tides of commercial capitalism from the perspective of the virtue of justice and on the flourishing production of treatises On Justice and Right (De iustitia et iure) that ensued from it. (3) A highly esteemed and influential masterpiece of this literary genre was delivered in 1605 by Leonardus Lessius (1554-1623), a Jesuit moral theologian living in the Spanish-ruled southern Netherlands. Taking the said traditional view that in commercial relationships on the earthly way through to paradise man should behave in accordance with the virtue of justice in order not to go astray, Lessius meticulously analyzed the market and tried to solve the qualms of conscience that merchants faced in it by analyzing their duties and rights in view of the principle of justice.

The current interest of Leonardus Lessius' elaborations on the morality of the market will become tangible through the translation of some illustrative cases taken from his discussion of the sale-purchase contract in chapter 21 of the second book of his treatise On Justice and Right. However, in order not to lose touch with the peculiarities of Lessius' thought, a few introductory paragraphs will prove to be indispensable. First, on the life and times of Lessius himself. Second, on the techniques used by the early modern scholastic movement to solve moral questions arising in the marketplace. Third, on Lessius' view of just pricing and business in general. The introduction will be completed by a reflection on the way Lessius can still be a source of inspiration for today. It needs to be stressed that we have attempted to make a translation as faithful as possible to the original Latin text of De iustitia et iure, book 2 (On Justice), chapter 21 ("On Buying and Selling"), for which we have used the only existing edition, namely Decock 2005. (4) We decided to leave out some dubitationes that might be of less interest to the readership of the Journal of Markets & Morality because of their predominantly juridical nature. (5)

Leonardus Lessius: Life and Works

Ever since Joseph A. Schumpeter's favorable account of Lessius in his History of Economic Analysis, historians of economic thought have endeavored to unearth the hidden treasures of pre-Smithean economic analysis in his treatise On Justice and Right--a job that turned out to be quite fruitful indeed. (6) Eminent scholars such as John T. Noonan, Raymond de Roover, Barry Gordon, and Louis Baeck agree, for example, that his elaborations on "lack of money" as a just title to demand interest clearly prefigure the modern principle of "liquidity preference." (7) Yet, while Lessius has been adorned with the epithet "master of economic analysis" in some biographical portraits of recent decades, in the early twentieth century, attempts have been made to start a canonization process and make him look like a saint detached from the material world. (8) The mainstream and hybrid picture we retain, then, for the moment, is that of Lessius as an economist and a saint, but let us turn to the facts first. (9)

Born in Brecht near Antwerp in 1554, during the heyday of the commercial revolution in the Spanish-ruled southern Netherlands following, among others, the discovery of the Americas, Lenaert Leys (or latinized: Leonardus Lessius) looked destined to become a successful businessman. At least, that was the project his guardian and uncle Huibrecht Leys originally had in mind before his tutelar son received a scholarship in 1567 to go on and study arts at the University of Leuven. Upon graduating as primus in 1572, Lenaert dazzled the hopes of his family and friends for a second time by entering into the freshly grounded and still highly controversial Jesuit order that sent him to Sint-Omaars (Saint-Omer) for two years of noviciate training. At the age of twenty, he was appointed lecturer in Aristotelian philosophy at the Jesuit College d'Anchin in Dowaai (Douai), where he remained for eight years and acquainted himself also with ancient languages, biblicism, classical literature, and Romano-canon law. He moved to Luik (Liege) in 1582 to begin theological studies, which, importantly, would lead him to spend one year in Rome at the Collegio Romano.

His stay in Rome from May 1583 until April 1584 would prove to be vital for the development of his thought. At the Collegio Romano, he would take lessons with Franciscus Suarez (1548-1627) and Robertus Bellarminus (1542-1621), to name but two of the revered professors of the central Jesuit University, and meet Maffeo Barberini (1568-1644), the future pope Urbanus VIII, among many others. He turned back to Luik, however, to prepare a course on scholastic theology that he would lecture on at the Jesuit College of Leuven for the next fifteen years. (10) Crucially, Lessius took Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae and the Enchiridion sive manuale confessariorum et poenitentium of Martinus de Azpilcueta (also known as Dr. Navarrus) as a starting point for his teaching activities, which turned out to be a competitive advantage in attracting students from the Leuven University to take lessons with him--a point of friction that added up to the already serious doctrinal tensions with the university due to Lessius' quarrel with Michael Baius (1513-1589) on grace and free will. (11) Lessius was accused of falling prey to semi-Pelagian tendencies in fanatically adhering to the molinistic doctrine on grace and free will of his colleague Ludovicus Molina (1535-1600). In contrast to the Augustinian and rather pessimistic view of human nature formulated by Baius, who might be seen as a proto-Jansenist, molinism implied a highly optimistic view of the role and capacities of the human will and intellect in gaining salvation.

From 1600 until his death, Lessius could almost entirely devote himself to the publication of his theological oeuvre ranging from dogmatic over political and moral theological treatises to ascetic and mystical literature. The only didactic activity he obviously still had to take charge of in view of his reputation as "The oracle of the Netherlands" were the weekly debates on controversial ethical issues (casus conscientiae). Lessius claimed these disputations to be the hallmark of the Jesuit order and a crucial part in the practical training of future priests. It is worth mentioning that an anthology of moral questions settled by Lessius himself as a regular consultant of merchants and political leaders was added under the title Auctarium complectens variorum casuum conscientiae resolutiones to his posthumously published lectures on the first and third book of Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, the Praelectiones theologicae de beatitudine et actibus humanis (1645). The theoretical, foremost juridical principles that should underlie the solution of any case of conscience are described in his monumental and wellknown treatise on the cardinal virtues: De iustitia et iure ceterisque virtutibus cardinalibus, which in principle is a commentary on the Secunda secundae of Thomas' Summa Theologiae. Though dwelling on the virtues of prudence, fortitude, and temperance too, the better part of the treatise includes a systematic treatment of the virtue of justice and, particularly, of property, torts, and contract law. Hence, the treatise is commonly known under its abbreviated title as De iustitia et iure. First published in 1605 by Ioannes Masius, numerous reprints and slightly altered editions followed at the Plantin-Moretus press in Antwerp and at other printing houses all over Europe until the nineteenth century. (12)

Lessius' obstinate defense of an extreme kind of molinism is reflected in the feverish persistence with which he clung onto his views regardless of the difficulties he met with, even within his own order. Although he had finished it by 1602, his treatise De gratia efficaci, decretis divinis, libertate arbitrii et praescientia Dei condicionata could only be edited in 1610 after internal censorship had radically refused to accept it in its original form. Even the final, published version stirred controversy and was rejected by his friend and colleague Robertus Bellarminus, who had still defended him some years before in his controversy with the Leuven faculty of theology. Nevertheless, Lessius stuck to his point and repeated his optimistic belief in human nature ten years later in the mystical work De perfectionibus moribusque divinis--once again followed by fierce condemnation. After all, Lessius was used to controversy. In many other apologetic works, he had been forced to combat the Protestant heresy, new Machiavellis, and atheist ideologies with utmost doggedness in defense of the pope and the one true Catholic faith.13 It might well be however, that, in the end, some fatigue led him to dedicate his mind to genres more readily accepted by the Roman censors. Among the flood of spiritual literature that flew from his pen, (14) one stands out: the Hygiasticon. Published in 1613, and followed by several translations in modern languages throughout the centuries, this book contains health tips and diets that will enable man to grow old without losing his mind and by conserving full vitality. In 1623, tormented by a chronic disease, Lessius died anyway.

Foundations of Moral Problem solving in Early Modern scholasticism (15)

Lessius' prolific and colorful record as an author urges us to reconsider the traditional, monochromatic picture of him either as a proto-economist isolated from any theological background or a saint too pious to engage in worldly affairs. Of late, an attempt has been made to overcome this artifical dichotomy by depicting Lessius simply as the model mediator between heaven and earth that he had become through fully internalizing the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola, which he had solemnly vowed to follow as a young man. (16) In their pursuit to find God in all things, to bring his message to all corners and cultures of the world, and to bridge the gap between the active and the contemplative life, the Jesuits developed a sharp eye for real world experiences and for the need of guiding the laity in their quest for a devout Christian life in their daily, down-to-earth occupations. (17) It is not a coincidence that in 1600 the first autonomous treatise of moral theology, Institutiones Morales was written by Ioannes Azorius, S.J., nor that the moral-juridical genre De iustitia et iure was brought to perfection in the hands of the famous Jesuit trio of Ludovicus Molina, Leonardus Lessius, and Ioannes de Lugo (1583-1660). In their universities and colleges across Europe, the future economic, political, and scientific elite was educated, and many a merchant or prince allowed himself a private Jesuit counsellor and confessor. Lessius, in particular, served as an adviser of Albert and Isabel, the Hapsburg archdukes governing the southern Netherlands during the last twenty years of his lifetime.

In drawing up a theoretical framework for dealing with the qualms of conscience that their clients faced, the Jesuits adopted much of the wisdom developed earlier on in the sixteenth century by Dominican friars such as Franciscus de Vitoria (1483/1492-1546) and Dominicus de Soto (1495-1560) at the University of Salamanca and professors such as Ioannes de Medina (1490-1546) in Alcala de Henares. (18) In all parts of Europe, Thomas' Summa Theologiae was taken as the reference work par excellence to deal with moral problems effectively, though the Summa primarily served as a useful tool, given its systematic and juridical bias, more than as an authority studied for the sake of its own. (19) Accordingly, the revived Thomism both in Iberian scholasticism and early modern Jesuit ethics was distinctly hybrid, blended as it was with Romano-canon, humanist, and nominalist influences. The importance of Roman and Canon law for the Catholic moral theologians in the early modern period can scarcely be underestimated; it provided them with the necessary juridical categories and technical vocabulary to come to grips with moral reality. (20) As such, all commercial behavior was categorized under property and contract law, with specific transactions being reduced to their corresponding contractual forms. (21) The humanist influence in Jesuit thought, both on their belief of man and on their use of an elegant Latin language, is obvious from the eminent place the classics occupied in their educational program. Consequently, it would make no sense to indict the Jesuit scholastics of linguistic barbarism or unworldliness, connotations all too frequently evoked by the term scholastic. (22) As for the nominalist influence, it brings us to the heart of early modern problem solving in the Jesuit order: casuistry and probabilism. (23)

How, then, is Lessius going to decide the licitness or immorality of a particular business practice? First, he is going to see to the natural-law precept that in commercial relationships commutative justice (iustitia commutativa) should prevail, implying that in any exchange equality (aequalitas) between what is given and received is to be preserved. Commutative justice aims at establishing an equivalent relationship between the goods exchanged in the business transaction, without taking into account any personal conditions of the parties to the contract. (24) In buying and selling, maintaining equality will amount to demanding the just or equal price (pretium iustum seu aequale) established either legally by a decree of the authorities or in the market itself by the common estimation of prudent businessmen. In any case, the just price needs to reflect a series of market factors, such as the abundance and scarcity of the good in question, the number of buyers and sellers, the particular mode or type of selling, and the overall money supply. (25) Yet, while this scheme surely provides us with a robust standard by which to judge particular business transactions, it might turn out to be too generalistic and rough. For example, take the following case. A buyer requests me to sell my good on the spot, whereas in fact I intended to sell it not until ten months later, being pretty sure that by that time its price would have doubled. (26) Am I obliged to sell at the current market price, or would it be allowed for me to demand a surplus, given that I am giving up a realistic profit in the future? Alternatively, is it licit for me to deviate from the current just price by virtue of the particular circumstances constituting my specific case?

It is licit indeed, according to Lessius and other sixteenth- through seventeenth-century moral theologians, to deviate from the just price in circumstances such as these. To understand why, we need to consider the casuistical trait of early modern problem solving. Under influence of the nominalist tendency to value singular and concrete experiences, the early modern scholastics made a distinction between solving a moral dilemma from a merely theoretical point of view on the one hand, and deciding it in practice, on the other. Although on a dogmatic level any dictate of natural law is absolutely not to be broken, by considering the empirical field of application of the law, right reason (recta ratio) might come to the conclusion that the transaction under scrutiny actually belongs to a specific class of paradigmatic cases that through their singularity are removed from the field of application of the natural-law precept. (27) To come back on the merchant who gives up a future profit by selling in advance, his situation can be classified as an instance of the paradigmatic case in which a businessman rightly deviates from the just price by virtue of the extrinsic title cessant gain (lucrum cessans). The gradual but steady expansion of these so-called extrinsic titles enabled the scholastics to account for new developments in business practice and escape the merciless rigidity of a general normative framework. Strictly speaking, any deviation from the equality principle, namely, the just price in buying and selling would be illicit, but by virtue of typical circumstances, extrinsic to the contract itself, this deviation may become entirely licit, not to say imperative.

Nominalism introduced a significant empirical element into Jesuit moral reasoning, enabling them to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Challenging the traditional idea that human reason is capable of discerning a certain and indisputable moral order, nominalism forced the early modern scholastics above all to approach natural law within a context of fundamental doubt and uncertainty. (28) From its practical analysis of natural law, fallible right reason cannot derive absolute certainties nor indisputable moral precepts. Man can merely formulate frail opinions about the existence and extent of a natural-law imperative and persuade himself of the respective probability of these opinions. In addition, nominalism took the view that morality is a matter of conflict, more specifically between an individual human being born in liberty to do as he pleases, and his powerful Creator, who is always able to restrict the liberty of man by a dictate of his sovereign will. Consequently, any moral agent is constantly haunted by doubts and fears, both on a speculative and a practical level, about the existence of a natural law that infringes on his freedom. Recognizing that it is impossible to settle all moral questions once and for all in theory, moral theologians such as Lessius set out to dam the flood of scruples by providing confessants at least with a minimal degree of practical certainty. To this end, Lessius made a careful distinction between probable and improbable opinions concerning the licitness of certain actions, making it clear that any deed deemed probable could be followed in practice, even though on a speculative level its licitness remained doubtful. (29)

Now it is crucial, of course, to grasp the exact meaning of probable (probabilis), to know how this expert culture of theologian-advisers functioned, and, last but not least, to qualify some of our statements in light of the historic development of the probabilistic method. What happens when the opinion of an expert about a moral act is deemed probable? Contrary to what its delusive translation in modern languages might suggest, probabilitas is not directly connected to mathematical-statistical certainty. In point of fact, to invoke the concept of probability in the Aristotelian tradition means to label a certain opinion as supported either by authority or by good rational argument. (30) Therefore, an opinion is probable if it is endorsed by one or more authoritative scholars or if it is the likely conclusion of sound and tight reasoning. It might be significant of his rational bias, that the appeal to authority often loses out to logical argumentation in Lessius' dialectic solution of cases of conscience. Yet, in any event, authority and experts are central to the probabilistic moral problem-solving method. Let us picture what happened when an agent, doubting the licitness of an act, went to consult a moral theologian such as Lessius. This professional problem solver, much like a lawyer before the external court, informed his client about the different probable and improbable opinions with respect to his question and about the chances of violating moral precepts. At the end, within the boundaries of the set of probable opinions, the client could choose to follow the probable authority or good argument he thought was most plausible--the moral agent enjoyed plenty of freedom, then, with the expert adviser merely guiding him through the tricky moral universe and forcing him to respect some minimal standards.

Although this picture could have been taken in the office of a Jesuit consultant of Lessius' ilk, it certainly does not suit the practice of advisers such as Sotus. For the view that it is licit to follow any opinion deemed probable (probabilis), i.e., even if other opinions credited with a higher degree of probability exist, holds true only for probabilism in the narrow sense of the word. The rupture in moral problem solving brought about through its first formulation in 1577 by the Dominican Bartholomaeus Medina (1528-1580) radically separates the more liberal business ethics embraced by a younger generation of predominantly Jesuit scholars from the rather cautious advice given by earlier sixteenth-century theologians. The latter stuck to a tutioristic or probabilioristic position in solving moral problems, implying that in case of doubt, man has the obligation always to follow the most probable opinion (probabilior) because that is the safer path (tutior) to salvation. The probabilists, on the contrary, maintained that a moral exigency to follow the most probable opinion did not exist, given that in moral matters such an obligation could not be imposed on man by necessity. To follow a probable opinion is simply good enough and adequately safe. Otherwise, any merchant would be forced to skip business, and, instead, imitate the life of Christ, no doubt the safest way of behaving--said Lessius. (31)

This is not to say, of course, that our Jesuit would not have fancied a world in which people strive at more lofty ideals. Yet, however paradoxical it may sound, he entertained the strong conviction that this goal would rather be attained by imposing only minimal moral standards on individuals, than by burdening the conscience of man with endless and highly specified precepts. (32) The former approach would create the free mental space necessary for any human being to do acts of supererogation out of his own liberal choice, whereas the latter attitude would end up being counterproductive by fueling a depressing inflation of scrupulosity and stifling all spontaneous creativity to do good deeds. As such, in his practice as a moral consultant, the theoretical foundations of which are laid down in his treatise On Justice and Right, Lessius contented himself with describing the minimal rules of conduct (praecepta) that a merchant had to observe. Yet, in preaching from the pulpit and writing his spiritual oeuvre, he definitely kept alive the dream that Christian businessmen obey more noble counsels (consilia). (33)

Lessius' concept of Usury, Just Pricing, and the Market

To sum up, then, we submit that the interdependence of Christian economic thought and the idea of human freedom--cleverly identified by Alejandro A. Chafuen as a general characteristic of Iberian scholasticism--was even deepened by the probabilistic attitude of the Jesuits at the turn of the seventeenth century. (34) What is more, because of his sharp eye for existing economic reality, and in view of his commitment to stimulate prudent merchants in their wealth-creating business, Lessius refined the very legal device to come to grips with the singularity of real-life cases of conscience: the theory of the extrinsic titles or legal grounds, deriving from specific circumstances exterior to the contract itself, which allow a deviation from the equality principle in economic exchange. As has been demonstrated by Toon Van Houdt, in broadening the field of application of extrinsic titles already recognized in the scholastic tradition (e.g., cessant gain) and, at the same time, formulating a new one (lack of money), Lessius almost entirely approved of the general market practice of claiming nonexcessive interest in lending money. (35) Thus, Michael Novak's statement that, although they felt bound to treat interest-taking more warily than did later capitalist thinkers, Iberian scholastics still discerned many legitimate forms of interest holds all the more true in the case of Lessius. (36) Given that the usury problem pervaded the entire economic thought of the scholastics, as other contracts were constantly suspected of being artificial devices to conceal a money loan, it will be useful now to analyze its phantom form in Lessius' De iustitia et iure.

As with any other contract, a loan must be concluded according to the principles of commutative justice, requiring that equality in exchange should be preserved. Because time was not thought to have a value-creating function of its own, this implied that the borrower was obliged to return exactly the same quantity of money that he had received. Any surplus stemming immediately from the loan contract itself (ex vi mutui) was deemed to be a usurious profit. The casuistical turn of the late scholastics, however, urged them to modify this general scheme. They acknowledged that there could be extrinsic reasons to make it licit for the money-lender to indemnify himself by charging interest on top of the principal, namely "damage incurred," "cessant gain," and "capital risk." Damage incurred (damnum emergens) concerned the damage the lender suffered from parting with his money during the term of the loan: If his house collapsed, for instance, he would be forced to borrow money at a cost. (37) In addition, money offers the possibility of making profits through investments. As a merchant abandons these lucrative opportunities in lending out his money, he is entitled to indemnification under the title cessant gain (lucrum cessans), which represents a sort of modern opportunity cost. (38) Third, because the debtor might become insolvent by the time of repayment, the lender is allowed to demand compensation for the uncertainty he exposes himself to (periculum sortis). (39) By the time Lessius edited his treatise On Justice and Right, damage incurred and cessant gain were widely accepted titles by the moral theologians. Yet, it is only with him that the title capital risk starts to gain solid ground.

More important, Lessius took the view that cessant gain could be invoked without further qualification by any moneylender implicitly intending to enter into a just and licit contract. (40) Traditionally, an appeal made to cessant gain to demand interest had to be substantiated and stipulated separately before the loan contract was concluded. A merchant, then, needed to demonstrate that the money he was asked to lend out had actually been destined for another purpose. On top of this, the factual opportunity cost underlying the appeal to the extrinsic title had to be judged in retrospect by a wise man. However, referring to common business practice at the Antwerp exchange, Lessius made possible a general and unconditional appeal to cessant gain, even for professional lenders and bankers. It should also be noted that in a sale-purchase contract he would still require the parties to explicitly mention the extrinsic title by virtue of which they want to deviate from the just price. Otherwise, the other party could be mistaken about the real value of the merchandise or even prefer not to enter into the contract altogether. (41) In any event, as concerns the traditional doctrine on interest and usury, Lessius undermined it even further by introducing a new extrinsic title: lack of money (carentia pecuniae). (42) Determining the right amount of interest by virtue of an individually determined opportunity cost had lost its sense through the generalization of cessant gain. Therefore, the value of parting with one's money had to be established on a more general level too, i.e., in the abstract money market. As such, interest became the market price of money, ensuing from the economic fact, later theorized by Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk (1851-1914), that present money is worth more than absent money. Accordingly, money has a time value fixed through common estimation in the market. Money becomes a commodity, like any other good, to be bought and sold at a just price in a depersonalized market.

In short, it is clear that Lessius' introduction, however careful it might have been, of the new title lack of money undermined the traditional usury doctrine. This innovative title carries with it the revolutionary potential of subsuming the theory of interest under the doctrine of just pricing and of rebaptizing usury as any interest exceeding the just price of money--which brings us to the second cornerstone of late scholastic economic thought. Lessius' doctrine of just pricing and the market stands out through the utmost consistency with which it is applied both to cases unmistakenly to be interpreted as sale-purchase contracts and to cases involving other contracts, which then are reduced to a sale-purchase contract. In the latter way, our Jesuit expanded the scope of the just price doctrine so as to further block the doctrine of usury. For Lessius, there is no doubt about it that a mutually redeemable right on annual pensions (census), a bill of exchange (cambium), or an insurance contract (assecuratio) are to be ranged under the heading of sale-purchase. (43) Consequently, the phantom of usury, by definition bound up to a loan contract, should not too readily be seen to intervene in them. The same holds true for the public auctions where bills of debt or obligations (chirographa) are exchanged at prices lower than their intrinsic value. Lessius convincingly argues that these bills are to be considered as saleable goods fetching a normal market price and not as concealed, usurious money-loans. (44) In the case of credit sale and purchase with advance payment, he contents himself with formulating the common opinion that these contracts are to be interpreted as concealed money-loans but in the end tries to show how these modes of sale purchase are finally ruled by rational price mechanisms of their own that escape the dreary logic of concealed usury. (45) Last but not least, he analyzes the bohatra-mohatra contract, a complex and artificial construction of sale and repurchase clearly devised to evade the interest prohibition, to constitute a real sale purchase. (46)

How did Lessius conceive of the just price and the market? It is important to stress from the outset that just means "equal" or "equivalent" here (pretium iustum seu aequale). (47) A just price guarantees a balanced or equivalent relationship between the two constitutive elements of a sale-purchase contract, i.e., merchandise (res) and price (pretium). It is a moral-juridical concept, then, rather than the buttress of a mathematical model of economic reality gravitating toward a long-term equilibrium market price. Even so, the just price is not entirely void of the dismal science. The normative account given of what a just price should be clearly reveals an analytical insight into the functioning of what nowadays we would call the competitive market price. By definition, a just price--even if fixed by a decree of the public authorities (48)--should reflect a number of market circumstances, such as the abundance and scarcity of goods; their objective and subjective utility; the number of buyers and sellers; the costs a businessman incurs in obtaining, transporting, and storing his merchandise; the money-supply; and the mode of selling. We have the strong impression that the latter factor, representing the insight that there are different types of markets functioning according to their own logic, is increasingly occupying a central role in Lessius' moral evaluation of business practice. (49) By recognizing, for instance, that an auction is a singular mode of selling governed by its own particular mechanisms, Lessius would approve of gross fluctuations in prices established in such a market, although in view of traditional doctrine it would have been doubtful to denote a price swinging so elastically as being just. (50) By the same token, Lessius indicated that it is extremely difficult to condemn sale credits at prices exceeding the normal just price, for there are certain mechanisms attached to the sale purchase of particular goods, such as a bulk of cacao imported from the American colonies, which naturally lead to the creation of a distinctive mode of selling inducing a higher price. In view of the public good, colonial wares like these are imported in massive quantities but logically cannot be sold to the wholesalers but on credit because they first have to retail them in order to get money. As a matter of market logic, allowing the first buyers to pay on credit attracts them in large numbers and boosts up the market price. (51) In sum, it is very typical of Lessius' analytical genius first to discern the underlying economic mechanisms of a particular business practice and, subsequently, to integrate this insight into his normative judgment. (52)

Still, we need to take into account Chafuen's reminder that one must exercise great care in jumping to the conclusion that in late scholasticism the just price always equalled the market price in conditions of perfect competition. (53) In the end, Lessius stressed that the estimation of the said market factors should be carried out by intelligent, experienced, and prudent businessmen. There remains a personal element, then, in Lessius' concept of the market, which does not allow us to think of it as an impersonal, self-regulated mechanism unreservedly. (54) From his cautious approval of different kinds of monopoly exercised within the limits of the just price emerges another feature of his economic thought that would certainly look anomalous in a modern theory of competitive equilibrium. (55) Likewise, it would be a gross oversimplification to reduce his account of the price mechanism to either a cost of production theory of value or a theory of subjective utility. The former would barely square with Lessius' vision of entrepreneurship: A merchant is certainly entitled to a just reward for his work, but if he has incurred exceptionally high costs, not covered by the market price, this is not a valid excuse for him to raise his prices. It is simply a case of bad luck or imprudent behavior. Conversely, if he has encountered exceptionally low costs, he is not obliged to reduce prices, for it pertains to his good luck or to his commercial prowess. (56) On the other hand, Lessius maintained that it is not licit to let the price merely be determined by the subjective need or desire a buyer experiences for a certain good. A just price is certainly not any arbitrary price the seller can bargain to get for his good, even in the case of exotic merchandise or luxury goods. (57) Time and again, the scholastic maxim baptized by Odd Langholm as the "double rule of just pricing" turns up in De iustitia et iure: A seller may well be allowed to account for the affective and financial damage he suffers from parting with his goods; he is not to calculate the price of the buyer's affections, needs, and desires. (58) This definitely does not mean either that the late scholastics had in mind a kind of metaphysically or ontologically determined theory of value. Following Augustine, they unequivocally recognized that the natural and economic orders are to be distinguished from one another. (59)

A pearl among the cases in Lessius' De iustitia et iure summing up his ideas on the morality of the market is "The merchant of Rhodes" in dubitatio 5. (60) The case concerns asymmetrically distributed information among market participants and the question corresponding to it of whether a seller is obliged to inform the other party about his knowledge of future changes in the market circumstances. Suppose, for example, that a grain dealer arriving in Rhodes, where the acute shortage of grain has led to towering prices, has come to know of other suppliers setting forth to the island. Should he tell the buyers about the future abundance of goods so that they can bargain a cheaper price? Making reference to the just-price doctrine, which states that a price should either by determined by the prince or by common estimation of relevant market factors, Lessius concludes that the seller has no duty at all to reveal his private knowledge. Morality in buying and selling amounts to demanding the just price, and the just price is determined by common, not by private estimation. Thus, even though the common estimation is based on error and ignorance, the just price ensuing from it still prevails. Though we cannot go into details here, Lessius' solution and further elaboration of this case reveals at least three distinctive features of his economic thought: (1) a consistent application of the general just price doctrine to all kinds of cases, (2) a restrictive interpretation of the vices of the will violating contractual consensualism, and (3) a concept of business as governed by rules of its own that should be recognized by an ethicist who boasts himself on stimulating virtuous and free-market behavior.

Commerce (negotiatio), or the art of making money by buying goods and selling them unchanged, is a salutary art contributing to the prosperity of the community and reinforcing the cohesion of people across the globe--thus, the general view in late-scholastic economics. (61) It should be licit, then, for a merchant to reap the fruits of this labor. He should do this by playing the game of the market, that is by playing on the fundamental licitness of exploiting the latitude of the just price. As Lessius clarified, a just price may swing in different places and at different times between the highest (summum seu rigorosum), middle (medium), and lowest (infimum seu pium) just price. (62) Making just profits amounts to buying a good, for example, at the lowest just price at a place or time A and selling it at the highest just price at a place or time B. Now, Lessius fully recognized that making profits in this way largely depends on painfully mounting a web of intelligencers who can keep you informed about market developments around the world. Not allowing a businessman who has obtained information about the future market situation to capitalize on that is tantamount to punishing prudent and industrious commercial behavior. From his insight into the market, Lessius could not possibly expect a merchant to reveal his information--an insight commonly recognized in our age but certainly not as widespread in earlier times. Cicero and Ioannes Medina, for instance, would have made the prudent businessman look a fool by requiring him to tell about his private knowledge. Acknowledging the need to stimulate prudent businessmen to draw on their experience, intelligence, and insight into the laws of the market to anticipate opportunities, Lessius could not give way to the argument that the other party had a right to nullify the contract by reason of involuntary consent due to ignorance. What is more, Lessius would explicitly state that everyone can deceive themselves through imprudent behavior: The professional buyer should blame the ignorance on himself because he has not been virtuous enough to inform himself about the market in which he is taking part. (63) Regularly repeating that, among professionals, the marketplace is not a realm of charity and donation but of commutative justice and inner economic logic, Lessius was not prepared to take on a paternalistic attitude in his moral judgments. (64)

Epilogue: What We Can Learn from Lessius Today (65)

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Leonardus Lessius was revived at the Catholic University of Leuven by enthusiastic members of the neo-Thomist movement who considered him to be a source of eternal truths of natural law, which through slight adaptation to the altered social and economic reality could still serve as a clue for solving contemporary problems. (66) It will be obvious from the biographical and moral-theological contextualization of Lessius' economic thought above that such an attempt was bound to fail: The market as well as the technical tools implemented to solve moral problems in the market have changed so much that the present in some way raises a barrier beyond which history cannot project its creativity any more. Nevertheless, we are convinced that with due respect for its peculiarities, Lessius' business ethics can still be a source of inspiration for today. We should, however, not concentrate so much on the answers but rather direct our attention to the questions themselves, which Lessius raises, and the fundamental principles he honors in tackling them.

First of all, Lessius gives us an excellent example of the way in which religious beliefs and involvement in the real world can be made to enter into a dialogue. He is not, as has happened so often in history and is repeating itself in parts of the globe today, taking the easy way out of this tension by creating a dichotomy in between evangelical ideals and worldly practices. On the contrary, by taking a distinctly positive view of the human person and his earthly occupations, Lessius empowers the faithful to engage themselves in just and prudent commercial activities. Second, Lessius stimulates entrepreneurship by recognizing that industrious merchants should be allowed to profit from their insight in the rules of the business game. As such, a merchant can licitly reap the fruits of painstakingly obtained knowledge and information to exploit price differences across the markets. Rewarding prudent behavior--a cardinal virtue implying intelligent analysis of the present, careful consideration of past experiences, and providence as to the future--is at the heart of Lessius' economic ethics. Third, Lessius urges the professional merchant to drop his assertive commercial behavior as soon as he leaves the increasingly depersonalized market of professional businessmen. The power of the strong is limited by the personal dignity of the poor and weak who would be streamrolled in a world based on mere commutative justice. Charity should complement the narrow principle of justice from time to time. Lessius, then, refuses both religious and economic fundamentalism.

Last but not least, our Jesuit has two important messages for anyone priding himself in being a sound business ethicist. The liberty of the human person forbids any totalitarian attempt to prescribe in abstract and pedantic details what a person should be allowed to do or not to do. An ethicist should limit himself to pointing out the minimal standards of conduct, so that the individual is able to set free his own creative potential for striving at more lofty ideals. On top of this, Lessius gives us a vital example in showing that any sound judgment about the morality of the market presupposes an analytical moment in which the mechanisms themselves of the market are scrutinized. It is small wonder, then, that Lessius' De iustitia et iure is met with increased interest in the contemporary world of academic and professional business ethics. The translation at hand may be a further tool in exploring its riches.

(1) The author wishes to express his gratitude to the Acton Institute for granting him a Centesimus Annus Fellowship that enabled him to carry out the research necessary for this publication. He currently is a Marie Curie EST Fellow of the European Commission, staying at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (Firenze/Roma). Any comments to this text are very welcome to wim.decock@inbox.com.

(2) This is a free adaptation of the metaphor developed by Thomas de Chobham (ca. 1160-ca. 1236) in his Summa de arte praedicandi, 6, 2, 373-82. Compare O. I. Langholm, The Merchant in the Confessional: Trade and Price in the Pre-Reformation Penitential Handbooks, Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought, 93 (Leiden, 2003), 4-5.

(3) A useful overview of treatises On Justice and Right is contained in A. Folgado, Evolucion historica del concepto del derecho subjetivo. Estudio especial en los teologos-juristas espanoles del siglo XVI, Pax juris. Escurialensium utriusque studiorum scerpta, 4 (Madrid, 1960), 29-35.

(4) The first edition of Lessius' De iustitia et iure was published in 1605 by Ioannes Masius in Leuven. This translation has been done from the critical edition of Lessius' chapter prepared by Wim Decock, "Breaking the limits. De 'homo oeconomicus' ontketend in Lessius' denken over markt en prijs? Editie, vertaling en studie van De iustitia et iure, lib. 2, cap. 21" (Leuven 2005) [unpublished master's thesis] for chapter 21, De emptione et venditione, pp. 81-137. The textual basis of Decock's editorial work was the 1621 edition published by Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp. This is the last edition of Lessius' De iustitia et iure that appeared during his lifetime.

This unpublished master's thesis also contains a Dutch translation of the chapters selected for the present publication in the Journal of Markets & Morality. It should be noted further that an excellent paraphrasing summary in German of a miscellany of passages in Lessius' De iustitia et iure dealing with economic problems ranging from bills of exchange to tax policy was provided by Toon Van Houdt in B. Schefold, ed., Leonardus Lessius' De iustitia et iure. Vademecum zu einem Klassiker der spatscholastischen Wirtschaftsanalyse, Klassiker der Nationalokonomie (Dusseldorf: Handelsblatt, 1999), 103-42.

(5) De iustitia et iure, lib. 2, cap. 21, dubit. 1 (Quid emptio, venditio, negotiatio et haec quibus prohibita), num. 1b-3 and 4b-6; dubit. 10 (Utrum si sciam occulte debitorem meum non esse solvendo, possim iis qui id nesciunt vendere illud debitum pretio ordinario); dubit. 12 (Utrum si res vendita pereat vel deterior fiat, pereat emptori an venditori); dubit. 13 (Utrum venditor possit percipere fructus vel utilitates rei a se venditae donec solvatur pretium); dubit. 14 (Utrum licita sit emptio et venditio cum pacto retrovenditionis, vel redemptionis); dubit. 15 (Ad quem pertinent fructus medii temporis, quando venditionis contractus dissolvitur); dubit. 17 (Utrum is qui vendidit rem alienam possit retinere pretium); dubit. 18 (Utrum licitum sit aliquando rem alienam emere et emptam retinere); dubit. 19 (Utrum is cui aliquid traditum est vendendum possit sibi aliquid ex pretio retinere si pluris vendiderit quam ei est praescriptum); dubit. 20 (Quando res in solidum ex intervallo duobus fuit vendita, utri debeatur).

(6) J. A. Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis, edited by Elizabeth Boody Schumpeter (1954; repr., London, 1972), 99. This father of historians of economic thought was introduced to Lessius by his student B. W. Dempsey, who had included a substantial contribution on Lessius in his Interest and Usury (Washington, D.C., 1943), 144-229.

(7) J. T. Noonan, The Scholastic Analysis of Usury (Cambridge, Mass., 1957), 351-52; R. De Roover, Leonardus Lessius als economist: de economische leerstellingen van de latere scholastiek in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden, Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van Belgie 31 (Brussels, 1969), 21; B. Gordon, Economic Analysis before Adam Smith: Hesiod to Lessius (London, 1975), 250; L. Baeck, The Mediterranean Tradition in Economic Thought, Routledge History of Economic Thought Series (London-New York, 1994), 190.

(8) A cult especially promoted by C. Van Sull in his hagiographic Leonard Lessius de la Compagnie de Jesus (1554-1623), Museum Lessianum, Section Theologique 21 (Louvain-Paris-Bruxelles, 1930). A meritorious effort to unlock the economist in Lessius is R. Beutels, Leonardus Lessius (1554-1623): Portret van een Zuidnederlandse laat-scholastieke econoom. Een bio-bibliografisch essay (Wommelgem, 1987).

(9) For which we rely on Toon Van Houdt's contribution in Nationaal Biografisch Woordenboek, vol. 14 (Brussels, 1992), cols. 416-24.

(10) Lessius was not a professor, then, at the University of Leuven. The unfortunate title "S. Theologiae in Academia Lovaniensi professor" added to his name on the front page of his De iustitia et iure has erroneously led many a scholar to hold the opposite.

(11) Lessius' lasting conflict on grace and free will with established theological authority is documented in E. J. Van Eijl, "La controverse louvaniste autour de la grace et du libre arbitre a la fin du 16ieme siecle," in: M. Lamberigts (ed.), L'augustinisme a l'ancienne faculte de theologie de Louvain, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 111 (Leuven, 1994), 207-82, and X.-M. Le Bachelet, Predestination et grace efficace: Controverses dans la Compagnie de Jesus au temps d'Aquaviva (1610-1615), Museum Lessianum. Section theologique 25-26 (Louvain, 1931).

(12) For an overview of the different editions, see T. Van Houdt, Leonardus Lessius over lening, intrest en woeker. De iustitia et iure, lib. 2, cap. 20. Editie, vertaling en commentaar, Verhandelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van Belgie, Klasse der Letteren, 162 (Brussel, 1998), xviii-xxv.

(13) See Quae fides et religio sit capessanda consultatio (1609); De Antichristo et eius praecursoribus disputatio (1611), with an appendix De Calvino; Defensio potestatis Summi Pontificis (1611); Discussio decreti Magni Concilii Lateranensis (1613); De providentia Numinis et animi immortalitate (1613).

(14) Disputatio de statu vitae deligendo et religionis ingressu (1613); De bono statu eorum qui vovent et colunt castitatem in saeculo (1615); De summo bono et aeterna beatitudine hominis (1616); De perfectionibus moribusque divinis (1620). A summary of Lessius' mysticism posthumously appeared unter the title Quinquaginta nomina Dei seu divinarum perfectionum compendiaria expositio (1640). Lessius made a translation of Dionysius Areopagiticus, too, and wrote an account of the Dutch mystical movement around Johannes Ruusbroeck, the Apologia pro scriptoribus mysticae theologiae, both of which are lost to us.

(15) This chapter is based on a more detailed study in W. Decock, De homo oeconomicus ontketend, 54-78. With respect to Lessius, we prefer using the term early modern scholasticism rather than late scholasticism because of the ceasura brought about in late scholastic moral reasoning at the end of the sixteenth century; cf. infra. Moreover, as to economic ethics, the Jesuit trio of Molina, Lessius, and Lugo seems to occupy a special place. It is precisely on the basis of their writings that H. M. Robertson defended the case for a Catholic rather than a Protestant birthplace of the spirit of capitalism in his Aspects of the Rise of Economic Individualism: A Criticism of Max Weber and His School, Cambridge Studies in Economic History, 1 (Cambridge, 1933).

(16) See the biographical account in T. Van Houdt-W. Decock, Leonardus Lessius: traditie en vernieuwing (Antwerp, 2005), 11-54.

(17) J. W. O'Malley, The First Jesuits (Cambridge Mass.-London, 1993) reads itself as an illustration of this thesis.

(18) We deliberately do not reduce the Iberian influences to a so-called School of Salamanca. Though it is beyond doubt that the University of Salamanca, which can boast itself on scholars such as Franciscus de Vitoria and Dominicus de Soto, has played a vital role in the innovation of Iberian scholasticism. The Thomistic drive that underlies it had already been started off at other intellectual centers in Spain before, and we should not forget the contributions of other universities such as Coimbra and Alcala de Henares. A monumental study dedicated to the School of Salamanca and clarifying some of the myths surrounding it is J. Belda Plans, La escuela de Salamanca y la renovacion de la teologia en el siglo XVI, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos Maior, 63 (Madrid, 2000).

(19) A decisive moment in the Thomistic revival was Pieter Crockaert's (ca. 1450-1514) decision to replace Petrus Lombardus' (1095-1160) Libri Sententiarum with Thomas' Summa Theologiae as a handbook for theological studies at the University of Paris in 1509. Soon afterward, a flood of commentaries on Thomas' Summa were spawned, of which Cardinal Cajetan's (1469-1536) stands out as one of the most influential.

(20) See R. Savelli, "Modeles juridiques et culture marchande entre 16e et 17e siecles," in Cultures et formations negociantes dans l'Europe moderne, ed. F. Argiolini-D. Roche, Civilisations et Societes, 91 (Paris, 1995), and B. Clavero, La grace du don. Anthropologie catholique de l'economie moderne, avec un preface de Jacques Le Goff (Paris, 1996), 93-108. This might give us a clue, too, as to why Lombardus' Sententiae, void of juridical tools, were replaced by Thomas' Summa Theologiae, which is pervaded by Romano-canon law, thus B. Lober, Das spanische Gesellschaftsrecht im 16. Jahrhundert (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1965), 8-9.

(21) The eminent legal historian James Gordley goes even so far as to detect the roots of modern property, contracts, and tort law in the treatises On Justice and Right of scholars such as Soto, Molina, and Lessius. See his compelling Foundations of Private Law: Property, Tort, Contract, Unjust Enrichment (Oxford, 2006), and The Philosophical Origins of Modern Contract Doctrine, Clarendon Law Series (Oxford, 1991).

(22) As to the humanist-Ciceronian flavor of the language used by the late scholastic authors in general, see J. IJsewijn-D. Sacre, Companion to Neo-Latin Studies: Part II, Literary, Linguistic, Philological and Editorial Questions, 2d entirely rewritten ed., Supplementa Humanistica Lovaniensia, 14 (Leuven, 1998), 289-90. J. Mahoney rightly points to the Jesuit spirit of Renaissance and humanist optimism as the main ground for their Pelagianistic and probabilistic ethics; see The Making of Moral Theology (Oxford, 1987), 299.

(23) A selection of specialized literature on which the account on casuistry and probabilism in the next paragraphs is based, includes A. Jonsen-S. Toulmin, The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning (Berkely-Los Angeles-London, 1988); Vereecke, L., "Le probabilisme," Le Supplement. Revue d'Ethique et Theologie Morale, 177 (1991): 7-22; Ph. Schmitz, "Kasuistik. Ein wiederentdecktes Kapitel der Jesuitenmoral," Theologie und Philosophie 67 (1992): 29-55; E. Leites (ed.), Conscience and Casuistry in Early Modern Europe, Ideas in Context (1998; repr., Cambridge, 2002); M. W. F. Stone, "Scrupulosity, Probabilism, and Conscience: The Origins of the Debate in Early Modern Scholasticism," in Contexts of Conscience in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700, ed. H. Braun-E. Vallance (London, 2004), 1-16; and M. W. F. Stone-T. Van Houdt, "Probabilism and Its Methods: Leonardus Lessius and His Contribution to the Development of Jesuit Casuistry," Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, 75 (1999): 359-94. For an accessible discussion of nominalism and its persistence in sixteenth-century moral theology, see S. Pinckaers, Les sources de la morale chretienne: Sa methode, son contenu, son histoire, Etudes d'Ethique Chretienne (Studien zur theologischen Ethik), 14 (Fribourg, 1985).

(24) De iustitia et iure 2, 1, 2, 9.

(25) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 1 and 2, 21, 3.

(26) Compare De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 4, 28.

(27) The natural-law precept itself, then, is not being abolished according to Lessius, cf. T. Van Houdt, "Tradition and Renewal in Late Scholastic Economic Thought: The Case of Leonardus Lessius (1554-1623)," Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 28, no. 1 (1998): 64-65.

(28) F. Gomez Camacho, "Later Scholastics: Spanish Economic Thought in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," in Ancient and Medieval Economic Ideas and Concepts of Social Justice, ed. S. Todd Lowry-B. Gordon (Leiden-New York-Koln, 1998), 506.

(29) Lessius, De beatitudine, de actibus humanis, de incarnatione Verbi, de sacramentis et censuris praelectiones theologicae posthumae: Accesserunt eiusdem variorum casuum conscientiae resolutiones (Lovanii, 1645), quaest. 19, art. 6, dubit. 7, num. 45.

(30) The Aristotelian framework of the doctrine on probabilitas is sketched in M. W. F. Stone, "The Origins of Probabilism in Late Scholastic Moral Thought. A Prolegomenon to Further Study," Recherches de Theologie et Philosophie Medievales (Forschungen zur Theologie und Philosophie des Mittelalters) 67, no. 1 (2000): 118-23.

(31) Lessius, De beatitudine, quaest. 19, art. 6, dubit. 7, num. 44.

(32) Lessius, De beatitudine, quaest. 19, art. 6, dubit. 7, num. 44.

(33) On the "double" morality of the Jesuits, see T. Van Houdt, "De economische ethiek van de Zuid-Nederlandse jezuiet Leonardus Lessius (1554-1623): een geval van jezuitisme ?" De zeventiende eeuw 14, no. 1 (1998): 27-37.

(34) See Christians for Freedom: Late-Scholastic Economics, with a foreword by Michael Novak (San Francisco, 1986), recently republished in a slightly modified version as Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics, Studies in Ethics and Economics (Lanham-Boulder-New York-Oxford, 2003). Along with F. Gomez Camacho's Economia y filosofia moral: la formacion del pensamiento economico europeo en la Escolastica espanola, Historia del pensamiento economico 1 (Madrid, 1998), these works constitute the main general introductions to late scholastic economic thought.

(35) T. Van Houdt, Leonardus Lessius over lening, intrest en woeker. Our sketch of Lessius' usury doctrine in the next paragraph is largely based on Van Houdt's analysis, p. 231-50 [English summary on pages 251-55]. For an excellent introduction in English, see T. Van Houdt, "Money, Time and Labour: Leonardus Lessius and the Ethics of Lending and Interest Taking," Ethical Perspectives 2, no. 1 (1995): 11-27.

(36) Foreword to A. A. Chafuen, Christians for Freedom, 10.

(37) De iustitia et iure 2, 20, 10.

(38) De iustitia et iure 2, 20, 11 and 12.

(39) De iustitia et iure 2, 20, 13.

(40) See Toon Van Houdt, "Implicit intention and the conceptual shift from interesse to interest. An underestimated chapter from the history of scholastic economic thought," Lias 33, no. 1 (2006): 37-58.

(41) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 4, 27.

(42) De iustitia et iure 2, 20, 14, esp. the argument as developed in num. 123-25.

(43) De iustitia et iure 2, 23 [introductory note] and 2, 28, 4, 24 respectively.

(44) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 8. In a completely unconvincing way, however, he suddenly returns to the traditional (and safe) argument of concealed usury to condemn the practice. A "deconstruction" of this manuver is offered in W. Decock, De homo oeconomicus ontketend, 291-302, and idem, "L'usure face au marche: Lessius et le juste prix des lettres obligataires," in Actes des Journees Internationales de la Societe d'Histoire du Droit (Universite de Bourgogne, Dijon, 30 mai--1er juin 2007, Memoires de la Societe pour l'histoire du droit et des institutions des anciens pays bourguignons, comtois et romands (MSHDB) [Forthcoming, 2008].

(45) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 6 and 7.

(46) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 16.

(47) Cf. De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 2 (title).

(48) If the public authorities are notably ignorant in adapting the legal price to changed market circumstances, the merchants have a right to disobey it; cf. De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 2, 14.

(49) In this respect, one could argue with Langholm that Lessius fulfilled a process of depersonalization or objectivization, starting with Cardinal Cajetan who thought it more important to look at the modus vendendi than to the causa contractus for a moral evaluation of business practices. See O. I. Langholm, The Legacy of Scholasticism in Economic Thought: Antecedents of Choice and Power (Cambridge, 1998), 99. We have further developed this idea in "Depersonalization of the Market and the Breakdown of the Scholastic Paradigm in Economic Thought: The Case of Leonardus Lessius," Journal of the History of Economic Thought [Forthcoming, 2008].

(50) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 4, 35.

(51) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 6, 56-57.

(52) It should not come as a surprise, then, that the normative value of commercial praxis (consuetudo seu usus mercatorum) occupies pride of place in his ethics; see my "La valeur normative de consuetudo pour la resolution de quelques cas de conscience autour des contrats dans l'oeuvre de Leonard Lessius (1554-1623)," in Actas del Coloquio Internacional del Historia del Derecho (Miercoles 26 y Jueves 27 de Septiembre de 2007, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires) [Forthcoming, 2008].

(53) Chafuen, Faith and Liberty, 83.

(54) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 2, 7; 2, 21, 2, 9; 2, 21, 3, 16; etc.

(55) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 21, 145 and 151.

(56) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 4, 29.

(57) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 3, 16. Hence, Lessius does not follow the traditional late scholastic division, going back to Vitoria, between necessary and luxury goods.

(58) O. I. Langholm, Economics in the Medieval Schools: Wealth, Exchange, Value, Money and Usury according to the Paris Theological Tradition. 1200-1350, Studien und Texte zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters 29 (Leiden, 1992), 232-34. An excellent illustration of this rule is De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 4, 26 and 31.

(59) Augustine, De civitate Dei, 11, 16.

(60) An elaborate discussion of this case is included in my "Depersonalization of the Market and the Breakdown of the Scholastic Paradigm in Economic Thought: The Case of Leonardus Lessius" [forthcoming], and idem, "Leonardus Lessius en De koopman van Rhodos. Een schakelpunt in het denken over economie en ethiek," De zeventiende eeuw 22, no. 2 (2006): 247-61.

(61) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 1, 4.

(62) De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 2, 11.

(63) De iustitia et iure 2, 17, 5, 27; 33; 34.

(64) For example, De iustitia et iure 2, 21, 4, 37 and 2, 21, 11, 84.

(65) It goes without saying that much of the argument developed in this afterword also applies to other late-scholastic authors. In the second number of the first volume of the Journal of Markets & Morality (1998), Rev. Robert A. Sirico pointed out the lasting and praiseworthy reliance of modern Catholic economic thought on late scholasticism: "Both place enterprise, human initiative, the price system, exchange, private property, the division of labor, and the liberty of contract at the center of economic life" (p. 122).

(66) For example, V. Brants, "Les theories politiques dans les ecrits de L. Lessius (1554-1623)," Revue Neo-Scolastique de Philosophie, 19 (1912): 42-85.
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Title Annotation:On Buying and Selling (1605)
Author:Decock, Wim
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Date:Sep 22, 2007
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