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International Law and ReligionHistorical and Contemporary Perspectives$
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Martti Koskenniemi, Mónica García-Salmones Rovira, and Paolo Amorosa

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805878.001.0001

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The Doctrine of the Providential Function of Commerce in International Law

The Doctrine of the Providential Function of Commerce in International Law

Idealizing Trade

Chapter:
(p.313) 13 The Doctrine of the Providential Function of Commerce in International Law
Source:
International Law and Religion
Author(s):

Ileana M. Porras

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198805878.003.0014

This chapter explores the doctrine of the providential function of commerce in the work of Francisco de Vitoria (c. 1492–1546), Alberico Gentili (1552–1608), and Hugo Grotius (1583–1645). In this chapter, I argue that the doctrine’s persuasive power lies in the interplay between two factors. First is the fact that while the doctrine is not in origin a religious doctrine, its elements and its narrative logic carried an unmistakable religious sensibility that became indissolubly associated with international trade. But the doctrine’s true efficacy lies in a more subtle internal effect. In essence, the doctrine, which holds at its core an act of exchange among distant peoples, allowed its adherents to idealize international trade by blurring the distinction between the act of commercial exchange and that of gift-exchange. In this manner, international exchange came to be portrayed as an act of friendship and community recognition, rather than a commercial act between strangers.

Keywords:   hospitality, merchant, naturalis societatis et communicationis, natural partnership, neighbour, communication, profit, providential function of commerce, School of Salamanca

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