This paper describes and explains the central role of the principle of contractual liberty with the Jesuits of the early modern period. Designed as a diptych, it intends to clarify how the legal and the moral philosophical tradition mutually enriched each other at the threshold of modernity. The 'ius commune' helped the Jesuits in formulating the idea of negative freedom, only for that 'ius commune' to undergo a transformation itself under the influence of the scientific account of contract law that the Jesuits were to develop on its basis. First it will be shown how the Jesuits arrived at a moral problem-solving method capable of freeing man from unduely burdensome obligations before the court of conscience through the application of the law of property and procedure. Secondly, this paper will highlight the turn towards positive freedom through the Jesuits' elaboration of a general doctrine of contract as a mutually accepted promise centered around the notions of liberty, consensualism, and the image of the will as a private legislator.
This paper investigates the interconnection between moral theology and legal thought in the work of Adrian of Utrecht (1459–1523). It is shown that early modern Catholic theology as it was practised at the University of Louvain cannot be properly understood without reference to the scholarly disputes in the law faculties. The legal character of practical theology draws on a long tradition that reaches back at least to the late medieval manuals for confessors. The legal nature of Adrian of Utrecht’s moral theology, in particular, will be illustrated through an analysis of the sixth among his Quastiones quodlibeticae (1515). In the context of a discussion on the question of whether statutory provisions are binding in conscience, Adrian develops compelling ideas about the use of equity as a tool for the interpretation of laws. He then applies this general theory to the interpretation of the precept of fraternal correction.