Interest: An Historical & Analytical Study in Economics & Modern Ethics

Interest: An Historical & Analytical Study in Economics & Modern Ethics

Interest: An Historical & Analytical Study in Economics & Modern Ethics

Interest: An Historical & Analytical Study in Economics & Modern Ethics

Excerpt

This study may be described as a new attempt to solve an old problem. The problem involves an economic fact and an ethical judgment. It is concerned with an answer to the question: Is the payment of interest for a money loan morally justifiable? The problem is a complex one, the solution of which demands that it be resolved into its component parts. Simply as it is stated above, it involves an answer to two distinct questions, each concerned with a different aspect of the same economic phenomenon. The first is concerned with what is, the second with what should be. The investigation of the first is a necessary prelude to the solution of the second. Before attempting to answer the question, is interest morally justifiable, one must first endeavor to ascertain what interest is and why and whence it arises. On the other hand, the second question is, in an important way, complementary to the first, in that it carries through the investigation of the same phenomenon from the field of economic theory to that of social policy and (in so far as all policy necessarily involves an ethical judgment) ethical science.

This definitely marks the sphere (or more correctly, the point within the overlapping circles) of our investigation. Specialization today is as manifest in the sciences as it is in modern technology. Yet there are those who point out that this method has its limitations as well as its advantages. Charles A. Beard, for example, refers with approval in this connection to the statement of Buckle "that the science of any subject is not at its centre but at its periphery where it impinges upon all other sciences." We should prefer to say that the practical importance of a science lies not at its center but at its periphery, where it impinges upon kindred sciences. This we believe to be especially applicable to the social sciences.

To the modern methodology of the isolation of the social sciences, from the point of view of the advancement of pure . . .

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