The Idea of a Moral Economy: Gerard of Siena on Usury, Restitution, and Prescription

By Lawrin Armstrong

© 2016

The Idea of a Moral Economy is the first modern edition and English translation of three questions disputed at the University of Paris in 1330 by the theologian Gerard of Siena. The questions represent the most influential late medieval formulation of the natural law argument against usury and the illicit acquisition of property. Together they offer a particularly clear example of scholastic ideas about the nature and purpose of economic activity and the medieval concept of a moral economy.

In his introduction, editor Lawrin Armstrong discusses Gerard’s arguments and considers their significance both within the context of scholastic philosophy and law and as a critique of contemporary mainstream economics. His analysis demonstrates how Gerard’s work is not only a valuable source for understanding economic thought in pre-modern Europe, but also a fertile resource for scholars of law, economics, and philosophy in medieval Europe and beyond.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Medieval Law
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 344 pages
  • Illustrations: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.1in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP003132

  • PUBLISHED APR 2016

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    Regular Price: $75.00

    ISBN 9781442643222
  • PUBLISHED APR 2016

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Quick Overview

The Idea of a Moral Economy is the first modern edition and English translation of three questions disputed at the University of Paris in 1330 by the theologian Gerard of Siena.

The Idea of a Moral Economy: Gerard of Siena on Usury, Restitution, and Prescription

By Lawrin Armstrong

© 2016

The Idea of a Moral Economy is the first modern edition and English translation of three questions disputed at the University of Paris in 1330 by the theologian Gerard of Siena. The questions represent the most influential late medieval formulation of the natural law argument against usury and the illicit acquisition of property. Together they offer a particularly clear example of scholastic ideas about the nature and purpose of economic activity and the medieval concept of a moral economy.

In his introduction, editor Lawrin Armstrong discusses Gerard’s arguments and considers their significance both within the context of scholastic philosophy and law and as a critique of contemporary mainstream economics. His analysis demonstrates how Gerard’s work is not only a valuable source for understanding economic thought in pre-modern Europe, but also a fertile resource for scholars of law, economics, and philosophy in medieval Europe and beyond.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Medieval Law
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 344 pages
  • Illustrations: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.1in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘Larwin Armstrong is to be praised for providing us with a valuable scholarly edition of Gerard’s influential work.’


    Stephen H. Rigby
    Economic History Review vol 69:04:2016

    ‘This book is fabulously useful scholarly resource, as well as a provocative call which deserves to be widely read.’


    H. Skoda
    English Historical Review September 2017

    ‘To bring together in this way intellectual history and economic history is an admirable proposal and this translation a good point to start.’


    Sybil M. Jack
    Parergon vol 34:02:2017

    "In its direct, succinct, and very insightful way, The Idea of a Moral Economy makes a major contribution to the understanding of scholastic economic thought and the transmission of ideas in the Middle Ages more generally."


    William Caferro, Department of History, Vanderbilt University

     "Lawrin Armstrong's lucid translation offers access to Gerard's thought and to the radical differences between his 'medieval' notions and those of modern capitalism."


    Christopher Schabel, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Cyprus
  • Author Information

    Lawrin Armstrong is a professor at the Center for Medieval Studies, cross-appointed to the Departments of History and Economics, at the University of Toronto.
  • Table of contents

    Preface and Acknowledgements
    Introduction
    Abbreviations

    Edition
    Quaestio de usura
    Tractatus de restitution
    Quaestio de praescriptione

    Translation
    A Question on Usury
    A Treatise on Restitution
    A Question on Prescription

    Bibliography

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