Topic: Natural Law and the Calvinist Usury Doctrine: From Forbidden Sin to Natural Property Right

Presenter: Joanne Lee

Advisors: Prof Nick Aroney, Dr Robert Mullins

Time: Friday, 10 July 2020  9-11am

Venue: This presentation will be delivered in person in the Board Room (W353) and streamed on Zoom.


The thesis will critically examine Calvin’s usury doctrine, understood as a form of natural law jurisprudence, focusing on his theory of contracts, property, credit and money through a close analysis of his original writings, particularly his biblical commentaries and his 1545 letter De Usuris Responsum. It will employ an ownership rights methodology to shed new light on his usury doctrine.

The thesis will examine what exactly is ‘Calvin’s usury doctrine’ from a jurisprudential point of view; and how have the concepts of contracts, property, credit and money been conceptualised or reconceptualised within the Calvinist natural law framework. It will argue that Calvin reconceptualised the idea of charity as the protection of private property in relation to the usury question, and usury as a form of equity (aequitas), or justice, in the context of commercial and business lending. This marked a new shift in usury jurisprudence.


Level 3, Forgan Smith Building
The University of Queensland, St Lucia 
Board Room (W353)