Volume 90, 2016
Justice: Then and Now
Peter Karl Koritansky
Is Usury Still a Sin? Thomas Aquinas on the Justice and Injustice of Moneylending
This paper examines Thomas Aquinas’s condemnation of usury. In the first section, the details of Thomas’s teaching are examined with special attention to the so-called “extrinsic titles” discussed in the Middle Ages as qualifications of the moral and legal strictures concerning moneylending. The reminder of the paper examines the particular extrinsic title of Lucrum Cessans (compensation for lost profit), which Thomas rejects, and attempts to square that rejection with other texts implying that compensation for lost profit is a requirement of justice when taken outside the context of moneylending. The paper concludes with some possible modern applications of Thomas’s position.