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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: March 2012

Antonio Serra, A Short Treatise on the Causes that Can Make Kingdoms Abound in Gold and Silver even in the Absence of Mines (1613),



When the mind mistakes a false concept for a true one, and either reflects no further or continues to reflect but bases all its arguments on the false premise which it has established, anything that depends on that premise is likely to be false; and any measures that are taken on the assumption that it is true are likely to fail. This, it seems to me, is what happened in the case of Marco Antonio de Santis's Discourse on the effect of the exchange rate in the Kingdom. Having taken as a sound premise the proposition that a low exchange rate is the only cause which makes a Kingdom abound in money and a high one the only cause which makes it poor, he deployed various arguments to prove that it was true. The result was that a decree was passed to lower the exchange rate [49] in the expectation that this would make the Kingdom abound in money, as he promises at such length in his Discourse.

Since I have promised to examine his theory and the arguments that he adduces in support of it, in this second part I will not refer to the actual course of events, which has proved him wrong, but will examine from a purely logical point of view the truth of the arguments and proofs presented in the Discourse.