September 25, 2007

GETTING FROM ANCIENT TO AT LEAST MEDIEVAL:

Will Quran limit growth of Muslim nations? (Samuel Gregg, 9/25/07, Detroit News)

Christianity once had a usury issue. Christianity began resolving this matter in the medieval period.

Scholastic theologians established that, under certain conditions (such as free exchange economies), money was not simply a means of exchange, but also "capital": that is, a productive good whose owners could legitimately charge others for its use.

Not all interest-charging, the scholastics concluded, constituted usury. [...]

A graver question is whether Islam's money problem is symptomatic of what some regard as Islam's apparent inability to generate the foundations any free society requires.

The West's resolution of its usury question showed that it could settle conflicts about an economic issue in ways consistent with its dominant moral traditions -- a process that gave rise to new conceptual possibilities for economic creativity. Likewise, medieval debates about the state's powers provided important intellectual foundations for concepts of rule of law and constitutionally limited government.


The importance of the moral tradition was evident in the fact that usury laws were retained, with usury understood as not just charging interest whatsoever but charging an unjust rate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2007 12:00 AM
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