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Casuistry (Template:PronEng) is an applied ethics term referring to case-based reasoning. Casuistry is used in juridical and ethical discussions of law and ethics, and often is a critique of principle- or rule-based reasoning.[1] The term "casuistry" originates from the Latin "casus" ("case").

Critics use the term pejoratively for the use of clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions (see sophistry). Casuistry is reasoning used to resolve moral problems by applying theoretical rules to particular instances.

ExamplesEdit

For example, while a principle-based approach might claim that lying is always morally wrong, the casuist would argue that, depending upon the details of the case, lying might or might not be illegal or unethical. For instance, the casuist might conclude that a person is wrong to lie in legal testimony under oath, but might argue that lying actually is the best moral choice if the lie saves a life (Thomas Sanchez and others thus theorized a doctrine of mental reservation). For the casuist, the circumstances of a case are essential for evaluating the proper response.

Typically, casuistic reasoning begins with a clear-cut paradigmatic case (from paradigm, the Greek word παράδειγμα, paradeigma, "pattern" and "example", in turn derived from παραδεικνύναι paradeiknunai, "demonstrate"). In legal reasoning, for example, this might be a precedent case, such as pre-meditated murder. From it, the casuist would ask how closely the given case currently under consideration matches the paradigmatic case. Cases like the paradigmatic case ought to be treated likewise; cases unlike the paradigm ought to be treated differently. Thus, a man is properly charged with pre-meditated murder if the circumstances surrounding his case closely resemble the exemplar pre-meditated murder case. The less a given case is like the paradigm, the weaker the justification is for treating that case like the paradigmatic case.

Meanings Edit

Casuistry is a method of case reasoning especially useful in treating cases that involve moral dilemmas. It is also a branch of applied ethics. Casuistry is the basis of case law in common law, and the standard form of reasoning applied in common law.

Casuist moralityEdit

Casuistry takes a relentlessly practical approach to morality. Rather than using theories as starting points, casuistry begins with an examination of cases. By drawing parallels between paradigms, so called "pure cases," and the case at hand, a casuist tries to determine a moral response appropriate to a particular case.

Casuistry has been described as "theory modest" (Arras, see below). One of the strengths of casuistry is that it does not begin with, nor does it overemphasize, theoretical issues. Casuistry does not require practitioners to agree about ethical theories or evaluations before making policy. Instead, they can agree that certain paradigms should be treated in certain ways, and then agree on the similarities, the so-called warrants between a paradigm and the case at hand.

Since most people, and most cultures, substantially agree about most pure ethical situations, casuistry often creates ethical arguments that can persuade people of different ethnic, religious and philosophical beliefs to treat particular cases in the same ways. For this reason, casuistry is widely considered to be the basis for the English common law and its derivatives.

Casuistry is prone to abuses wherever the analogies between cases are false.

HistoryEdit

Western casuistry dates from Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), yet the zenith of casuistry was from A.D. 1550 to A.D. 1650, when the Jesuit religious order extensively used casuistry, particularly in practicing the private, Roman Catholic confession.[2] The term casuistry quickly became pejorative with Blaise Pascal's attack on the misuse of casuistry. In Provincial Letters (1656–7)[3] he scolded the Jesuits for using casuistic reasoning in confession to placate wealthy Church donors, whilst punishing poor penitents. Pascal charged that aristocratic penitents could confess their sins one day, re-commit the sin the next day, generously donate the following day, then return to re-confess their sins and only receive the lightest punishment; Pascal's criticisms darkened casuistry's reputation. Since the seventeenth century, casuistry has been widely considered a degenerate form of reasoning. Critics of casuistry focus on its specious argumentation as intentionally misleading.

It was not until publication of The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning (1988), by Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin,[4] that a revival of casuistry occurred. They argue that the abuse of casuistry is the problem, not casuistry itself (itself an example of casuistic reasoning). Properly used, casuistry is powerful reasoning. Jonsen and Toulmin offer casuistry in dissolving the contradictory tenets of absolutism and relativism: “the form of reasoning constitutive of classical casuistry is rhetorical reasoning”.[5] Moreover, Utilitarianism and Pragmatism commonly are identified as philosophies employing the rhetorical reasoning of casuistry.

Casuistry in early modern times Edit

The casuistic method was popular among Catholic thinkers in the early modern period, and not only among the Jesuits, as it is commonly thought. Famous casuistic authors include Antonio Escobar y Mendoza's Summula casuum conscientiae (1627), which had enjoyed a great success, Thomas Sanchez, Vincenzo Filliucci (Jesuit and penitentiary at St Peter's), Antonino Diana, Paul Laymann (Theologia Moralis, 1625), John Azor (Institutiones Morales, 1600), Etienne Bauny, Louis Cellot, Valerius Reginaldus, Hermann Busembaum (d. 1668), etc. One of the main theses of casuists was the necessity to adapt the rigorous morals of the Early Fathers of Christianity to modern morals, which led in some extreme cases to justify what Innocent XI later called "laxist moral" (i.e. justification of usury, homicide, regicide, lying through "mental reservation", adultery and loss of virginity before marriage, etc. — all due cases registered by Pascal in the Provincial Letters).

The progress of casuistry was interrupted towards the middle of the 17th century by the controversy which arose concerning the doctrine of probabilism, which stipulated that one could choose to follow a "probable opinion," that is, supported by a theologian or another, even if it contradicted a more probable opinion or a quotation from one of the Fathers of the Church.[6] The controversy divided Catholic theologians into two camps, Rigorists and Laxists.

Casuistry was much mistrusted by early Protestant theologians, because it justified many of the abuses that they sought to reform. It was famously attacked by the Catholic and Jansenist philosopher Pascal, during the formulary controversy against the Jesuits, in his Provincial Letters as the use of rhetorics to justify moral laxity, which became identified by the public with Jesuitism; hence the everyday use of the term to mean complex and sophistic reasoning to justify moral laxity[7]. By the middle of the 18th century, "casuistry" became a synonym for moral laxity.[citation needed]

In 1679 Pope Innocent XI publicly condemned sixty-five of the more radical propositions (stricti mentalis), taken chiefly from the writings of Escobar, Suarez and other casuists as propositiones laxorum moralistarum and forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication.[8] Despite this papal condemnation, both Catholicism and Protestantism permit the use of ambiguous and equivocal statements in specific circumstances.[9]

Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (d. 1787), founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, then brought some attention back to casuistry by publishing again Hermann Busembaum's Medulla Theologiae Moralis, the last edition of it being published in 1785 and receiving the approbation of the Holy See in 1803.[citation needed] Busembaum's Medulla had been burnt in Toulouse in 1757 because of its justification of regicide, deemed particularly scandalous after Damiens' assassination attempt against Louis XV.[citation needed]

Casuistry in modern times Edit

G. E. Moore dealt with casuistry in chapter 1.4 of his Principia Ethica; he claimed that "the defects of casuistry are not defects of principle; no objection can be taken to its aim and object. It has failed only because it is far too difficult a subject to be treated adequately in our present state of knowledge." He also asserted, "Casuistry is the goal of ethical investigation. It cannot be safely attempted at the beginning of our studies, but only at the end."[10]

Since the 1960s, applied ethics has revived the ideas of casuistry in applying ethical reasoning to particular cases in law, bioethics and business ethics, so the reputation of casuistry is somewhat rehabilitated.

A good reference, analysing the methodological structure of casuistic argument, is The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning (1990), by Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin (ISBN 0-520-06960-9).

See also Edit

Further ReadingEdit

  • Alonso, Alfred (1990). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning." Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol. XLIII, pp. 639-641.
  • Arnold, Carroll C. (1989). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning." Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 75, pp.494-495.
  • Arras, John D. (1991). "Getting Down to Cases: The Revival of Casuistry in Bioethics." The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 16, pp. 29-51.
  • Biggar, Nigel. (1989). "A Case for Casuistry in the Church." Modern Theology, Vol. 6, p. 29.
  • Blake, David C. (1992). "The Hospital Ethics Committee: Health Care's Moral Conscience or White Elephant?" Hastings Center Report, Vol. 22, pp. 6-12.
  • Bliton, Mark J. (1993). The Ethics of Clinical Ethics Consultation: On the Way to Clinical Philosophy (Diss. Vanderbilt)
  • Boeyink, David E. (1992). "Casuistry: A Case-Based Method for Journalists." Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Vol. 7, pp. 107-120.
  • Boyle, Joseph. (1991). "Who is Entitled to Double Effect?" Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, pp. 475-494.
  • Brody, Baruch A. (1988). "Ethical Questions Raised by the Persistent Vegetative Patient." Hastings Center Report, Vol. 18, pp. 33-37.
  • Brody, Baruch A. (1989). "A Historical Introduction to Jewish Casuistry on Suicide and Euthanasia." in Baruch A. Brody, Suicide and Euthanasia: Historical and Contemporary Themes (Netherlands).
  • Brown, James F. (1991). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral
  • Reasoning." America, p. 492.
  • Buckley, William Joseph. (1989). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning." Journal of Religion, Vol. 69, pp. 577-578.
  • Carlson, A. Cheree. (1992). "Creative Casuistry and Feminist Consciousness: The Rhetoric of Moral Reform." Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 78, pp.16-33.
  • Carney, Bridget Mary. (1993). Modern Casuistry: An Essential But Incomplete Method for Clinical Ethical Decision-Making. (Diss., Graduate Theological Union).
  • Carson, Ronald A. (1990). "Interpretive Bioethics: The Way of Discernment." Theoretical Medicine, Vol. 11, pp. 51-59.
  • Carson, Ronald A. (1988). "Paul Ramsey, Principled Protestant Casuist: A Retrospective." Medical Humanities Review, Vol. 2, pp. 24-35.
  • Chidwick, Paula Marjorie (1994). Approaches to Clinical Ethical Decision-Making: Ethical Theory, Casuistry and Consultation. (Diss., U of Guelph)
  • Davis, Dena S. (1992). "Abortion in Jewish Thought: A Study in Casuistry." Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 60, pp. 313-324.
  • Degrazia, David (1992). "Moving Forward in Bioethical Theory: Theory, Cases, and Specified Principilism." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 17, pp. 511-539.
  • DeMarco, Joseph P. (1991). "The Abuse of Casuistry." Southwest Philosophy Review, Vol. 7, pp. 17-30.
  • Downie, R. (1992). "Health Care Ethics and Casuistry." Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 18, pp. 61-62, 66.
  • Drane, J.F. (1990). "Methodologies for Clinical Ethics." Bulletin of the Pan American Health Organization, Vol. 24, pp. 394-404.
  • Dworkin, R.B. (1994). "Emerging Paradigms in Bioethics: Symposium." Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 69, pp. 945-1122.
  • Elliot, Carl (1992). "Solving the Doctor's Dilemma?" New Scientist, Vol. 133, pp. 42-43.
  • Emanuel, Ezekiel J. (1991). The Ends of Human Life: Medical Ethics in a Liberal Polity (Cambridge).
  • Gaul, Al (1995). "Casuistry, Care, Compassion, and Ethics Data Analysis." ANS Advance Nursing Science, Vol. 17, pp. 47-57.
  • Gaffney, James (1990). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral
  • Reasoning." America, pp. 467-468.
  • Gallagher, Lowell (1991). Medusa's Gaze: Casuistry and Conscience in the Renaissance (Stanford)Green, Bryan S. (1988). Literary Methods and Sociological Theory: Case Studies of Simmel and Weber (Albany)
  • Hoffmaster, B. (1994). "The Forms and Limits of Medical Ethics." Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 39, pp. 1155-64.
  • Hoose, Bernard (1991). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning." Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 17, pp. 221-222.
  • Houle, Martha Marie (1983). The Fictions of Causistry and Pascal's Jesuit in "Les Provinciales" (Diss. U California, San Diego)
  • Hunter, Michael (1993). "Casuistry in Action: Robert Boyle's Confessional Interviews with Gilbert Burnet and Edward Stillingfleet." Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 44, pp. 80-99.
  • Hunter, Kathryn Montgomery (1989). "A Science of Individuals: Medicine and Casuistry." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 14, pp. 193-220.
  • Jonsen, Albert R. (1991). "American Moralism and the Origin of Bioethics in the United States." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, pp. 113-130.
  • Jonsen, Albert R. (1986). "Casuistry and Clinical Ethics." Theoretical Medicine, Vol. 7, pp. 65-74.
  • Jonsen, Albert R. (1986). "Casuistry" in J.F. Childress and J. Macgvarrie, eds. Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics (Philadelphia)
  • Jonsen, Albert R. (1991). "Casuistry as Methodology in Clinical Ethics." Theoretical Medicine, pp. 295-307.
  • Jonsen, Albert R. (1991). "Of Balloons and Bicycles; or, The Relationship Between Ethical Theory and Practical Judgment." Hastings Center Report, pp. 14-16.
  • Jonsen, Albert R. and Stephen Toulmin (1988). The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning (California).
  • Keenan, James F., S.J. (1989). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning." Theological Studies, Vol. 50, pp. 390-392.
  • Keenan, James F., S.J. and Thomas A. Shannon. (1995). The Context of Casuistry (Washington).
  • Kemp, Kenneth W. (1989). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral
  • Reasoning." Ethics, Vol. 99, pp. 945-966.
  • Kirk, K. (1936). Conscience and Its Problems, An Introduction to Casuistry (London)
  • Klinefelter, Donald S. (1990). "How is Applied Philosophy to Be Applied?" Journal of Social Philosophy, pp. 16-26.
  • Kopelman, Loretta M. (1994). "Case Method and Casuistry: The Problem of Bias." Theoretical Medicine, Vol. 15, pp. 21-37.
  • Kopelman, Loretta M. (1990). "What is Applied About 'Applied' Philosophy?" Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 15, pp. 199-218.
  • Kuczewski, Mark G. (1994). "Casuistry and Its Communitarian Critics." Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Vol. 4, pp. 99-116.
  • Kuczewski, Mark G. (1994). Fragmentation and Consensus in Contemporary Neo-Aristotelian Ethics: A Study in Communitarianism and Casuistry (Diss., Duquesne U).
  • Leites, E. (1988). ed. Conscience and Casuistry in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge).
  • Leites, E. (1974). "Conscience, Casuistry, and Moral Decision: Some Historical Perspectives." Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Vol. 2, pp. 41-58.
  • MacIntyre, Alasdair (1990). "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning." Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 634-635.
  • MacIntyre, Alasdair (1984). "Does Applied Ethics Rest on a Mistake?" Monist, Vol. 67, pp. 498-513.
  • Mackler, Aaron Leonard. Cases of Judgments in Ethical Reasoning: An Appraisal of Contemporary Casuistry and Holistic Model for the Mutual Support of Norms and Case Judgments (Diss., Georgetown U).
  • Macpherson-Smith, M. (1994). "Anchor and Course for the Modern Ship of Casuistry." Cambridge Quarterly Healthcare Ethics, Vol. 3, pp. 391-402.
  • Mahowald, Mary B. (1994). "Collaboration and Casuistry: A Peircean Pragmatic for the Clinical Setting." in Herman Parret, ed. Peirce and Value Theory (Amsterdam).
  • McCready, Amy R. (1992). "Milton's Casuistry: The Case of 'The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce.' " Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Vol. 22, pp. 393-428.
  • Miles, Steven H. (1989). "The Abuse of Casuistry." JAMA, Vol. 262, pp. 961-962.
  • Miller, Richard B. (1989). "On Transplanting Human Fetal Tissue: Presumptive Duties and the Task of Casuistry." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 14, pp. 617-624.
  • Murray, Thomas H. (1994). "Medical Ethics, Moral Philosophy and Moral Tradition." in K.W.M. Fulford, ed. Medicine and Moral Reasoning (New York).
  • Murrary, Thomas H. (1993). "Moral Reasoning in Social Context." Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 49, pp. 185-199.
  • Odozor, Paulinus Ikechukwu (1989). Richard A. McCormick and Casuistry: Moral Decision-Making in Conflict Situations (M.A. Thesis, St. Michael's College).
  • Pack, Rolland W. (1988). Case Studies and Moral Conclustions: The
  • Philosophical Use of Case Studies in Biomedical Ethics (Diss., Georgetown U).
  • Pascal, Blaise (1967). The Provincial Letters (London).
  • Peach, Lucinda Joy (1994). "Feminist Cautions About Casuistry." Policy Studies, Vol. 57, pp. 143-160.
  • Río Parra, Elena del (2008). Cartografías de la conciencia española en la Edad de Oro (Mexico).
  • Rudy, Kathy (1994). "Thinking Through the Ethics of Abortion." Theology Today, Vol. 51, pp. 235-249.
  • Seiden, Melvin (1990). Measure for Measure: Casuistry and Artistry
  • (Washington).
  • Sichol, Marcia, S.H.C.J. (1992). "Women and the New Casuistry." Thought, Vol. 67, pp. 148-157.
  • Singer, Marcus G. (1980). "Is Ethics a Science: Ought it to Be?" Zygon, Vol. 15, pp. 29-42.
  • Smith, David H. (1991). "Stories, Values, and Patient Care Decisions." in Charles Conrad, ed. The Ethical Nexus: Values in Organizational Decision Making. (New Jersey).
  • Sobel, Jordan Howard (1985). "Everyone's Conforming to a Rule."
  • Philosophical Studies, Vol. 48, pp. 375-387.
  • Spohn, William C. (1993). "The Magisterium and Morality." Theological Studies, Vol. 54, pp. 95-111.
  • Starr, G. (1971). Defoe and Casuistry (Princeton).
  • Strong, Carson (1988). "Justification in Ethics" in Baruch Brody, ed. Moral Theory and Moral Judgment in Medical Ethics (Dordrecht).
  • Tallmon, James Michael (2001). "Casuistry" in The Encyclopedia of Rhetoric. Ed. Thomas O. Sloane. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 83–88.
  • Tallmon, James Michael (1993). Casuistry and the Quest for Rhetorical Reason: Conceptualizing a Method of Shared Moral Inquiry (Diss., U of Washington).
  • Tallmon, James Michael (1994). "How Jonsen Really Views Casuistry: A Note on the Abuse of Father Wildes." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 19, pp. 103-113.
  • Taylor, Richard (1984). Good and Evil - A New Direction: A Foreceful Attack on the Rationalist Tradition in Ethics (Buffalo).
  • Thomasma, David C. (1994). "Clinical Ethics as Medical Hermeneutics." Theoretical Medicine, Vol. 15, pp. 93-111.
  • Tomlinson, Tom (1994). "Casuistry in Medical Ethics: Rehabilitated, or Repeat Offender?" Theoretical Medicine, Vol. 15, pp. 5-20.
  • Toulmin, Stephen (1982). "How Medicine Saved the Life of Ethics."
  • Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Vol. 25, pp. 736-750.
  • Toulmin, Stephen (1988). "The Recovery of Practical Philosophy." The American Scholar, Vol. 57, pp. 337-352.
  • Toulmin, Stephen (1981). "The Tyranny of Principles." Hastings Center Report, Vol. 11, pp. 31-39.
  • Van Der Steen, William J., and Bert Musschenga (1992). "The Issue of
  • Generality in Ethics." Journal of Value Inquiry, Vol. 26, pp. 511-524.
  • Walton, Douglas N. (1990). "Courage, Relativism and Practical Reasoning." Philosophia, Vol. 20, pp. 227-240.
  • Warnick, Barbara. "The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning." Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 24, pp. 76-80.
  • Watson, Robert N. (1992). "Measure for Measure: Casuistry and Artistry." Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 43, pp. 242-244.
  • Weinstein, Bruce David (1989). The Possibility of Ethical Expertise (Diss. Georgetown U).
  • Weston, Anthony (1984). "Drawing Lines: The Abortion Perplex and the
  • Presuppositions of Applied Ethics." Monist, Vol. 67, pp. 589-604.
  • Wildes, Kevin Wm., S.J. (1990). "The Priesthood of Bioethics and the Return of Casuistry." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 18, pp. 33-49.
  • Wildes, Kevin Wm., S.J. (1993). The View for Somewhere: Moral Judgment in Bioethics (Diss. Rice U).
  • Winston, Morton (1990). "Ethics Committee Simulations." Teaching Philosophy, pp. 127-140.
  • Zacker, David J. (1991). Reflection and Particulars: Does Casuistry Offer Us Stable Beliefs About Ethics? (M.A. Thesis, Western Michigan U).
  • Zaner, Richard M. (1993). "Voices and Time: The Venture of Clinical Ethics." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 18, pp. 9-31


ReferencesEdit

  1. "Casuistry", Dictionary of the History of Ideas, University of Virginia Library. On line.
  2. Franklin, James (2001). The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 83-88. 
  3. Pascal, Blaise (1898) [1657]. The Provincial Letters of Blaise Pascal. eBooks@Adelaide. M'Crie, Thomas (trans.). London: Chatto & Windus. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/pascal/blaise/. 
  4. Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin, The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning, Berkeley, U. California Press (1990, ISBN 0-520-06960-9).
  5. Jonsen, 1991, p. 297.
  6. Franklin, Science of Conjecture, p 74-6, 83.
  7. 170 "Casuistry..destroys, by distinctions and exceptions, all morality, and effaces the essential difference between right and wrong." Henry St.John, Viscount Bolingbroke, Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism 1736(pub. 1749), quoted in Oxford English Dictionary, 1989 ed.
  8. Kelly, J. N. D., The Oxford History of the Popes, Oxford University Press, 1986. ISBN 0192820850 (p. 287).
  9. J.-P. Cavaillé, Ruser sans mentir, de la casuistique aux sciences sociales : le recours à l’équivocité, entre efficacité pragmatique et souci éthique, in Serge Latouche, P.-J. Laurent, O. Servais & M. Singleton, Les Raisons de la ruse. Une perspective anthropologique et psychanalytique, Actes du colloque international « La raison rusée », Louvain la Neuve, mars 2001, Paris, La Découverte, 2004, pp. 93–118 Template:Fr icon.
  10. G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica, (1903); 2nd ed. Thomas Baldwin, Cambridge and New York, Cambridge U. Press (1993), p. 57. ISBN 0521448484

External linksEdit

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