Quas Primas and the Economic Ordering of Society for the Social Reign of Christ the King: A Third Perspective on the Bainbridge/Sargent Law and Economics Debate
Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Vol. 47, pp. 369-390, 2008
22 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2008
How can it be that respected Catholic legal scholars can reach seemingly opposite conclusions about 'Law and Economics?' Stephen Bainbridge has argued that both the descriptive and normative aspects of the Law and Economics movement are consistent with and even demanded by the Catholic understanding of the nature of the human person in a fallen world and our historical experience with totalitarian regimes. Mark Sargent, on the other hand, argues that at least the normative, and perhaps aspects of the descriptive, side of Law and Economics are not completely consistent with the nature and purpose of the human being as expressed through Catholic Social Teaching. Both of these approaches attempt to debate the correctness of Law and Economics from an anthropological perspective: what is human nature and what does the answer to that question tell us about economic analysis of law? This essay attempts to address the topic from a perspective that differs from both that of Bainbridge and Sargent, a cosmological perspective. How does God relate not only to individuals but organized collections of individuals in a partnership, corporation or a commercial society? The answer lies in a closer examination of the teaching on the Social Reign of Christ the King. This essay examines the encyclical Quas Primas in light of the other writings of Pius XI and the history of Catholic thought about economics to arrive at a novel critique of the place of Law and Economics within Catholic legal theory.
Keywords: Catholic Legal Thought, Catholic Social Teaching, Law and Economics, Law and Society
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