Money, Banks and Finance in Economic Thought

Money and finance in late Scholastics: Francisco Suarez on taxation

Gómez Rivas León, Universidad Europea de Madrid

It is well known the thesis of an influence of Late Scholastics in the origin of Western Economic and Political Thought. In fact, the name “School of Salamanca” is referred to a group of theologians and Natural Law philosophers who taught in the University of Salamanca, following the inspiration of the great tomist Francisco de Vitoria. They developed some original theories about Economy or International Law, in such a modern point of view, beginning from some very interesting Treatises on Justice. Soon, the new Jesuit clerics became his disciples (third generation), foregrounding Juan de Mariana, Luis de Molina or Francisco Suárez (Granada, 1548 – Lisbon, 1617. About his intellectual acknowledgement, just to say that Grotius, Pufendorf, Schopenhauer or Heidegger used to cite him as a source of inspiration and influence). As Perdices & Revuelta (2011) pointed, there is a great number of Fritz Neumark’s Principles of modern taxation that can be traced back to the School of Salamanca. In their paper, they made a comparative research on this topic, which could be completed with our specific approach to Francisco Suárez analysis on Taxes. In fact, Suarez wrote about it in his celebrated book De Legibus (A Treatise on Laws), where we can find some very interesting chapters about the moral circumstances of taxation. Like his master Vitoria had initiated, Francisco Suarez developed a complete comment on Aquinas Summa Theologiae. In his Book V (“On Positive-Human Law”) he devoted six Chapters to study the moral and economic foundation of taxes, mostly on the justice and limits of taxation. Some authors agree in finding such a Suaretian eco in the famous motto: “No taxation without representation”, that had an enormous spread when the American Revolution against Great Britain. In fact, those ideas about the “consent of the citizens” could be one of the most brilliant contribution of Late Scholastics to Western Thought. That is what we are going to propose in our paper.


Keywords: Late Scholastics, Suarez, Taxation

Paper file