Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Scholastic influence on Castilian monetary arbitrism

Font Cecilia , Universidad Francisco de Vitoria

Most of the theoretical arguments included in the arbitrist literature were not original or ground-breaking developments at all, despite how undeniably interesting these texts are. They generally contain developments on economic ideas with foundations that had been already discussed, both in the writings of scholastic doctors from the School of Salamanca who had encountered these questions before, and in the writings of other authors who had tackled economic issues from other perspectives. The authors of the School of Salamanca became the reference framework for the arbitristas, who replicate their arguments in their texts, albeit without mentioning them explicitly. Specifically, monetary alterations and the fiscal issues are a matter for distributive justice, whereas the price question falls within the commutative justice purview, since it refers to the relationship between value and price in the realm of the just price theory—within which framework Martín de Azpilcueta established the quantity theory of money, which, as we will see afterwards, explains the rise in prices caused by the increase in quantity of money in circulation. The analysis of the foundations and origins of the ideas expressed in the arbitrios is a necessary and important exercise to determine how economic ideas are produced, evolve, and are transmitted over time. Without attempting to make a comprehensive description of scholastic economic thought, in this paper we will try to settle its main core with the aim of establishing and facilitating the comprehension of the theoretical framework of the memorials.


Keywords: Arbitrism. School of Salamanca. Memorials. Monetary alterations

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