Chapter

The Unjust Contract

Daniel K. Finn

in The True Wealth of Nations

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199739813
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866120 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199739813.003.0007
The Unjust Contract

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This chapter provides a moral evaluation of unjust contracts. The moral rejection of unjust contracts is ancient. The biblical condemnation of the practice found its most basic argument in the protection of the poor. There was little need to worry about the well-to-do entering into agreements that abused them. It was, rather, the poor and unfortunate who, under the strictures of unhappy circumstance, might agree to a loan with unfair conditions or terms of employment that left a family without enough to survive. The later history of Christian evaluations of contracts preserves this concern for the poor but expands it to articulate four distinct arguments in the condemnation of the unjust contract: the biblically based concern for the poor, the proper relation between human law and God's law, the character of justice, and the violation of freedom that unjust contracts entail. The chapter considers each of these and then focuses on an extension of one of them—the notion of justice—appropriate for Catholic social thought today.

Keywords: Catholic social thought; unjust contract; moral rejection; justice; Christian evaluations

Chapter.  9808 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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