Article publication: Tomás de Mercado and the Global Transfer of Goods and Norms. Emergence of Probabilism and a Differentiated Mercantile Ethics

We are happy to announce the publication of the article written by José Luis Egío, “Tomás de Mercado y la transfretación global de bienes y normas. Emergencia del probabilismo y una ética mercantil”, in: Cauriensia. Revista anual de ciencias eclesiásticas 15, 169 – 201 (2020).

The research on probabilism and its emergence, which for the last few decades seemed to be exhausted subjects and restricted to the niche of a highly specialized philosophical literature, has recently been revitalized by the publication of the monographs of Stefania Tutino (2017) and Rudolf Schüßler (2019). As a complement to these recent investigations, this article deals with the important role – not taken into account by the old and new historiography – that Tomás de Mercado, a theologian trained in Mexico and Salamanca, played in the emergence of probabilism as a philosophical current and as a proposal for the renewal of the methods practiced in the moral theology of the time.

Focusing on Mercado’s Tratos y contratos de mercaderes y tratantes (1569), this paper analyzes the interesting and profound methodological considerations which, although scattered throughout the work and not presented by Mercado himself in a systematic way, constitute one of the first extensive and conscious reflections on the need to adapt the theological-moral method to the conditions of uncertainty created by the overseas discoveries. Finally, presenting the book Tratos y Contratos as a common initiative of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Salamanca, the article underlines the importance that the Salamanca School gave to the renewal of inherited contents and methods as the only way in which Christian normative heritage could survive -even if transformed-, into an incipient mercantile economy characterized by an increasingly accelerated and global transfertatio of goods and norms.

Mercado’s Tratos y contratos de mercaderes y tratantes (1569) is one of the sources of the project The School of Salamanca: A Digital Collection of Sources and a Dictionary of its Juridical and Political Language. It was digitally edited within the framework of our project in 2019, 450 years after its original publication in Seville.

The article written by José Luis Egío makes part of a special issue of the Journal Cauriensia on the “Economic Thinking of the School of Salamanca. Antecedents and influence”. Other contributors to this monographic issue addressed the medieval and early modern debates on usury, just price, personal services or restitution, among other legal and moral-theological topics.


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