Economics of Governance

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 89–99 | Cite as

The infallibility of the pope

Original Paper

Abstract

This paper tries to explain the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility as a rational choice that virtually forecloses future doctrinal change and thereby triggers the adoption of more loyal behavior by church members. The paper employs a model of a dynamic game with incomplete information, called the Reform game, and shows that under some conditions, closing the game and credibly pre-committing to a single strategy through the dogma may be a superior choice for the Church. Then it is shown that the model fits well the historical circumstances of the enactment of the dogma. Finally, an analogy of the dogma with the scriptural literalism of fundamentalist religious groups is suggested.

Keywords

Catholic Church Infallibility dogma Scriptural literalism Economics of religion Incomplete information 

JEL Classification

D71 Z12 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allen DW (1995) Order in the church: a property rights approach. J Econ Behav Organ 27(1): 97–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen DW (2009) Theocracy as a screening device. In: Ferrero M, Wintrobe R (eds) The political economy of theocracy. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp 181–199Google Scholar
  3. Anderson A (2004) An introduction to pentecostalism. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Baron SW (1957) A social and religious history of the Jews. Religious controls and dissensions, vol 5, 2nd edn, rev. and enl. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Brinner WM (1989) Karaites of Christendom—Karaites of Islam. In: Bosworth CE et al The Islamic world. Essays in honor of Bernard Lewis. The Darwin Press, Princeton, pp 55–73Google Scholar
  6. Crone P, Cook M (1977) Hagarism. The making of the Islamic world. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Ekelund RB et al (1996) Sacred trust: the medieval church as an economic firm. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Epstein I (1959) Judaism. A historical presentation. Penguin Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Ferrero M (2007) An economic approach to religious extremism. In: Timmerman C et al (ed) Faith-based radicalism: Christianity, Islam and Judaism between constructive activism and destructive fanaticism. Peter Lang, Brussels, pp 71–87Google Scholar
  10. Ferrero M (2008) The triumph of Christianity in the Roman empire: an economic interpretation. Eur J Pol Econ 24(1): 73–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Iannaccone L (1992) Sacrifice and stigma: reducing free riding in cults, communes, and other collectives. J Pol Econ 100(2): 271–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Johnson P (1976) A history of Christianity. Atheneum, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Lapidus IM (2002) A history of Islamic societies, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  14. Latourette KS (1953) A history of Christianity. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Martin, RC (ed) (2004) Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. Entries “Law” and “Salafiyya”. Macmillan Reference USA, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. The Jewish Encyclopedia, articles “Karaites and Karaism” and “Sadducees”, available online at http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com
  17. von Harnack A (1958) History of Dogma, translated from the 3rd German edn by Neil Buchanan, vol 7. Russell & Russell, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Vance L (1999) Seventh-day Adventism in crisis: gender and sectarian change in an emerging religion. University of Illinois Press, Urbana (IL)Google Scholar
  19. Williams GH (1992) The radical reformation, 3rd edn. XVI Century Journal Publishers, Kirksville (MO)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Policy and Public Choice (POLIS)University of Eastern PiedmontAlessandriaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Economics, Social Science CentreUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

Personalised recommendations