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By Andre Azevedo Alves, Jose Moreira


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But ‘double justification’ as it was being formulated eventually proved incapable of solving the dispute, at least partly because of Luther’s peculiarly extreme interpretation of Augustine’s doctrine of original sin and his division of mankind into two irrevocably separated groups: the true Christians in a ‘kingdom of God’ and all other human beings in a ‘kingdom of Satan’. 30 The widely perceived Catholic need to renew and reinvigorate the educational and doctrinal capabilities of both the clergy and the laity in order to face the Protestant challenge led to an unprecedented mobilization of intellectual and organizational resources.

Being the most general of the four kinds of law, eternal law therefore includes a section related specifically with mankind and its relationship with the world: this natural law (lex naturalis), which can be apprehended by human reason. For Aquinas (and his followers) natural law is natural not in the sense of merely being instinctive to man as an animal but in the sense that man, as a rational being, is naturally able to distinguish right from wrong through the use of reason. 7 While natural law can be clearly understood through the correct employment of human reason, it does not supply more than general rules for human conduct and its precepts are often 28 The Salamanca School insufficient to serve as a guide for everyday actions.

29 Mercado’s most famous book is his Suma de tratos y contratos, printed for the first time in Salamanca in 1569, with an enlarged re-edition in Seville in 1571 and 1578 and translated to Italian in 1591. 31 Although Mercado was a theologian, his economic writings assumed a practical – more than speculative – nature, perhaps as a consequence of his active contact with the commercial sphere (as was customary at the time, in addition to his academic activities he also acted as 18 The Salamanca School an advisor on economic, juridical and ethical issues).

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