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Economists since Adam Smith have studied the wealth of nations, but what about the good of nations and the people who inhabit them? Can modern economics handle a robust notion of the common good?

Acton’s Third Annual Academic Colloquium will seek to answer these questions by focusing on the theme of “Thomism and Economics.” 

Thomism, the philosophical tradition building upon the work of the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas, has much to say about what makes for good and flourishing societies. Some even trace the roots of modern economics to early Thomist thinkers. But today, modern economics has its own unique approach to the analysis of commercial life. Putting the two together promises an informative and fruitful exchange of ideas for a free and virtuous society.

As part of the Acton Institute’s locally popular Acton Lecture Series, this conference will feature a keynote address from Dr. Mary Hirschfeld, associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame and author of Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy.

In addition, Acton will welcome twelve scholars for three panels of short paper presentations, featuring new research on the conference theme of “Thomism and Economics.”

With the partnership of:
Aquinas College 
Calvin University 
The Henry Institute 
The Society for Thomistic Natural Philosophy 
The Society for 21st Century Thomism

Mary Hirschfeld, Ph.D.
Mary Hirschfeld, Ph.D.
University of Notre Dame

Associate Professor of Theology

Dr. Mary Hirschfeld works on the boundaries between theology and economics using an approach rooted in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. She has written on economic inequality, the technocratic paradigm, the financial crisis and the common good. She completed a Ph.D. in economics (Harvard University) under the direction of Lawrence Summers and Jeffrey Williamson, and a Ph.D. in Moral Theology (University of Notre Dame) under the direction of Jean Porter. Her research is on the boundary between economics and theology, culminating in her book Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy (Harvard University Press, 2018).

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


Acton Institute
98 Fulton Street E
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
United States


9:30am – Reception/Opening Remarks

10:00-11:30am – Short Paper Panel

  • Rebecca Supriya Shah/Timothy Samuel Shah, “The Priority of Dignity: Re-orienting Research on Poverty Alleviation in the Global South around a Thomistic Understanding of, and Respect for, the Human Person”
  • Paul Jensen, “Philosophers, Justice, and the Poor”
  • Paul Rezkalla, “What Hath Peter Singer to do with Thomas Aquinas?”
  • Antônio Lemos, “The Virtuous Wolf: Unleashing Thomist Virtue Ethics in Wall Street”

11:30-noon – Coffee Break

Noon-1:00pm – Lunch: Acton Lecture Series Plenary Address

  • Mary Hirschfeld, “Aquinas and the Market”

1:00-1:30pm – Coffee Break

1:30-3:00pm – Short Paper Panel

  • Michael D. Thomas, “A Just and Tolerant Commercial Society Requires an Orientation to the Good”
  • Clara E. Piano, “Familial Liberty: Property and Family in Late Scholastic Thought”
  • Paul J. Radich and Frederic Sautet, “The Thomistic Virtues of the Entrepreneur”
  • Daniel C. Wagner, “A Thomistic-Aristotelian Model of Environmental Philosophy & Sustainability”

3:00-3:30pm – Coffee Break

3:30-5:00pm – Short Paper Panel

  • Van Mobley, “Luther, the Thomists, and Monopolies”
  • James M. Patterson, “The Forgotten History of an Eighteenth-Century Thomistic Usury Debate”
  • Matthew J. Advent, “Usury and Interest: Forgotten Developments in the Thomistic Tradition"
  • Paul Oslington, “The Invisible Hands of Adam Smith and Thomas Aquinas”

5:00-5:30pm – Conclusion/Closing Remarks


The registration fee is $25. Group registrations (5 or more persons) are available for a discounted rate of $20 per person.

For further details, contact Dylan Pahman, executive editor, Journal of Markets & Morality[email protected].