chapter  1
21 Pages

Making uncertainty fungible

In the quaestio concerning insurance (contractus assecurationis), the Spanish Dominican priest and theologian Domingo de Soto (1495-1560) offered a social argument in favour of assecuratio while asserting that ‘trade is a fundamental factor of the common good’.1 De Soto argued that the process of sharing risks with insurers ‘allow[ed] many merchants to start businesses that they would never even have considered because of the dangers of long-distance maritime travel’. He then went on to argue that ‘assecuratio is a necessary instrument of commerce, a financial practice that generates common good’.2 Ceccarelli, writing on this issue, noted that

de Soto [was] not concerned with the religious implications that derive[d] from the economic exploitation of random events. God’s absolute power and his foreknowledge of the future [were] not threatened by the fact that some types of contracts [were] based on future events humanly unknowable.3