This book studies the development of ideas on freedom, coercion and power in the history of economic thought. It focuses on the exchange of goods and services and on terms of exchange (interest rates, prices and wages) and examines the nature of choice, that is, the state of the will of economic actors making exchange decisions. In a social context, anyone's range of choice is restricted by the choices made by others. The first to raise the question of the will in this economic context were the medieval scholastics, drawing on non-economic analytic models inherited from antiquity and mainly from Aristotle. From these origins, views on economic choice, coercion and power are recorded, as they gradually change over the centuries, until they manifest themselves in more contemporary disputes between different branches of institutional economics.
• Author is the world's leading exponent of the legacy of scholasticism in modern economic thought • Author has written four previous books on this general theme, but this book supersedes them • Will be of interest to medieval economic historians as well as historians of economic thought
Preface; Introduction; Part I. Compulsion and the Will: Three Ancient Traditions: 1.The Aristotelian tradition; 2. The Roman law tradition; 3. The Augustinian tradition; Part II. Need as Compulsion: The Scholastic Paradigm: 4. Loans and usury; 5. Price and market manipulation; 6. Need and the will in buying and selling; 7. Labor and wages; Part III. Rejection and Revival in Postscholastic Thought: 8. Hobbes: the antithesis; 9. The economics of natural law; 10. The neoclassical system and its critics; Bibliography; Index.