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Economic and Business Ethics in Select Italian Scholastics (ca. 1200–1450)

  • Martin SchlagEmail author

Abstract

Between 1200 and 1450, Italy was one of the main actors in the “commercial revolution,” which took place in this period. This protagonism positively impacted scholastic reflection on economic ethics. Against the background of earlier chapters, four important authors among a great number of Italian scholastics have been chosen for closer examination: Olivi, Astesanus, Bernardino of Siena, and Antonino of Florence. They justified and exalted the importance of commerce and the social role of merchants praised for their honest work. The profit merchants made was considered to be a just recompense for their service of transporting, storing and improving goods. Profit was not, however, to be sought out of greed or avarice but in order to sustain one’s family and give alms. All authors were unanimous in their condemnation of usury as a form of exploitation of the poor. Their distinction between usury and interest and the establishment of so-called extrinsic titles to interest paved the way for the modern system of regulated interest rates in legal financial markets.

Keywords

Medieval Italian economy Scholastic economic thought Olivi Astesanus Bernardino Antonino Commerce Just price Usury Interest Extrinsic titles 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pontifical University of the Holy CrossRomeItaly

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