Usury Redux: Notes on the Scholastic Analysis of Usury by John T. Noonan

23 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020

See all articles by Joseph Burke

Joseph Burke

Watchdog Research; Audit Analytics

Date Written: November 15, 2011


I summarize the key points of the scholastic theory of usury following The Scholastic Analysis of Usury by John T. Noonan. Usury is the sin of taking interest on a loan without a just title. According to Scholastic moral theology, interest on loans may be justified by the extrinsic titles to damnum emergens and lucrum cessans, i.e. for losses incurred or for profits lost. Implications of this teaching are discussed with regard to other contracts, such as partnerships, the census contract, bills of exchange and “dry exchange,” insurance contracts, and the so called triple contract. Also discussed are the changes in the practices of confessors that occurred between 1822 and 1836.

Keywords: usury, commutative justice, Catholicism, Scholasticism

JEL Classification: B11, Z12

Suggested Citation

Burke, Joseph, Usury Redux: Notes on the Scholastic Analysis of Usury by John T. Noonan (November 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Joseph Burke (Contact Author)

Watchdog Research ( email )

5072 Annunciation Cir., Suite 202
Ave Maria, FL 34142
United States
855-820-6272 (Phone)


Audit Analytics ( email )

9 W. Main St
Suite 2F
Sutton, MA 01590
United States


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics