Talk:Casuistry

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Tagged "Disputed Neutrality"[edit]

Anonymous User:69.214.61.7 tagged this article 12 July 2005

  • I'm no expert on casuistry, but I have never heard it described in terms of "pure cases, also called paradigms." Please see [1] if you're looking for a simple dictionary definition. --LMS

(The dictionary definitions at the linked site:

"1. Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead."
"2. The determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing cases that illustrate general ethical rules."

Does the Wikipedia article not support these definitions? Wetman 21:50, 16 July 2005 (UTC))

  • Much of this article's claims about casuistry are idiosyncratic or just so much Platonist quackery. The article on applied ethics explains it much better - perhaps this one was a poor first pass, and that one was the finished version? (posted by Anonymous User:69.214.61.7, 12 July 2005, tagging the article for lack of Neutrality)
The on-line Dictionary of the History of Ideas, given as an External Link, might provide a guide to mainstream ideas. --Wetman 21:50, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
  • Lines like ``Another common everyday connotation is "complex reasoning to justify moral laxity or to forward unspoken agendas." from the first paragraph are pure opinion.
(...or perhaps they are just common everyday connotations after all. --Wetman 23:48, 12 July 2005 (UTC).)

Does anyone feel that the neutrality of this article is "disputed"? Please make your feelings better known on this Talk page. Thank you --Wetman 21:50, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

  • Not disputed I think the article is even-handed. It explains the controversies surrounding the article and "Platonist quackery", might I add, is so much ad hominem. Amicuspublilius 04:35, 17 July 2005 (UTC)
  • Adequate but oversimplified The article captures the gist of casuistry. I am a specialist in the literature and casuistry in the early modern period (the period of "high casuistry"). The article suggests that Protestants were averse to casuistry, but in fact they had their own, highly developed form of casuistry which was strikingly similar (and deeply indebted) to its Catholic precursors. However, Protestants de-emphasized the Catholic casuists' tendency to cite the myriad opinions of "other ecclesiastical atuhorities," in favor of supporting their casuistic solutions with scripture and logical analysis alone. Since "casuistry" was actually a pejorative term (the "-ry" suffix bearing the same tone as other, similar negative terms like "wizardry," "popery," etc.), the Protestants referred to their brand of casuistry as "case divinity," "practical divinity," or (more simply) "cases of conscience." Puritans were quicker than their Anglican brethren to respond to numerous Protestant calls to formulate and publish a distinct Protestant brand of casuistry. William Perkins' A BRIEF DISCOURSE ON CONSCIENCE (1597) and THE WHOLE TREATISE OF THE CASES OF CONSCIENCE (1604) are considered the first systematic Protestant (specifically Puritan) treatises on conscience, though other, shorter discourses on conscience had been published sooner by Protestants. A. E. Malloch estimates that more than 600 treatises on conscience were published between 1560 and 1660, making casuistry (as historian Thomas Wood remarks) "a truly popular phenomenon." For an excellent overview of the classical origins, rise, and decline of casuistry, see Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin, THE ABUSE OF CASUISTRY. Jonsen and Toulmin do a nice job explaining why it is erroneous (and unfortunate) to disregard the casuistic method (particularly, its precise appreciation for how the particulars of a situation impact the morality of a particular situation or action) from current discussions of ethics, which often can benefit from just this sort of appreciation of particulars. Pascal's damning critique in the Lettres Provinciales gave casuistry a bad name from which it has never quite recovered, but in fact, he was reacting only to the most extreme misapplications of casuistry. Most casuists were quite sincere in their efforts to uncover the morally probable solution to some terribly difficult moral dilemmas. Casuists on both "sides" (Protestant and Catholic) often agreed about most issues concerning the conscience's composition, function, proper application, authority, etc. They produced a very rich (albeit often tedious and hair-splitting, but not necessarily sophistic) body of literature for analyzing the morality of an action in light of circumstances, and it afforded real relief to the majority of renaissance individuals who felt confused, torn, or oppressed by the unique pressures produced by the split from the Catholic church and the competition between the faiths. Check out Jonsen and Toulmin's book. If you're really interested, see also Camille Wells Slights, THE CASUISTICAL TRADITION; Meg Lota Brown's article, "The Politics of Conscience in Early Modern England"; and (for the scholarly-inclined) Lowell Gallagher, MEDUSA'S GAZE. (Anon. User)
Some of this material would easily find a place in the article. --Wetman 07:47, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Just Plain Wrong![edit]

<<For example, casuistic reasoning would easily accept that illegally obtained evidence should still be admitted to a legal argument because the illegality of the methods used to obtain the evidence does not negate the value of the evidence itself. The illegal methods themselves should be prosecuted, but that is a separate issue. In contrast, a rigorous theoretical approach might find that such evidence is "not real evidence," and therefore refuse to admit it to permissible reasoning.>>

This is misleading, the reason for supressing illegally obtained evidence is precisely practical and in spite of the concept of the court as "truth-seeker". The goal of preventing the police/prosecutor from illegally obtaining evidence (along with determination that there is no other way to accomplish this goal) motivates such an exclusionary rule. This is precisely the balancing of casual effects that we are trying to discuss!

On the contrary, a purist might pejoratively call an exclusionary rule casuistry on the grounds that it attempts create a solution for a broader problem than the scope would generally allow, i.e. a decision about admissible evidence growing into a policy meant to deter police misconduct. For the purist, whether or not the evidence is germane to the question at hand is the only criterion to be used. 134.10.9.159 10:35, 10 April 2006 (UTC)


Organization of the facets of Applied ethics[edit]

Casuistry, applied ethics, ethics, ethical codes, moral codes, moral core, aesthetics, etiquette, criminal justice, arbitration, law, politics, legal codes (and various examples of same), precedent and case-based reasoning articles could all be better coordinated, and also much improved. There are more articles on law and politics and political science that also need to be clear that no one views these as anything but applied ethics within states.

In the zeal to apply a 'relentlessly practical' approach to decisions, it would seem that Larry tried to eliminate all the pre-existing precedents, and ignore how most of the important decisions in our lives are actually made. This does not seem all that practical, although it was relentless. And thankfully over. It's time to fix these articles and remove this obvious bias.

Trunk article is Applied ethics, right?[edit]

The trunk article is Applied ethics, of which casuistry is an aspect. Is this right? So, at the article Applied ethics there should be a subsection, perhaps titled Casuistry: the argument from cases. That subsection, under the heading Main article Casuistry, should offer a concise abridgment of what is to be found in more detail here. Shouldn't many of the aspects of applied ethics in the post above be treated in similar fashion?

Is that the most useful approach? --Wetman 23:48, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

Moved from applied ethics[edit]

"In a modern casuistic approach to say, a biomedical issue, two boards of experts are appointed. The ethical board might represent disparate ethical theories. The scientific board represents relevant medical, legal, psychological and philosophical disciplines. The ethical board evaluates situations, and recommends and ratifies responses. The scientific board explains the causes and effects of each ethical state and response.

The boards then consider actions that are appropriate for relevant pure cases. For example, most ethical systems agree that assault deserves punishment, while risking oneself to save lives deserves reward. Other cases that are often relevant include theft, gifts, verified truth, verified lying, betrayal, and earned trust.

Taking such cases as data, the board draws parallels with the problem under consideration, and attempts to discover a set of actions to respond to the case under consideration.

For example, medical experiments without informed consent, performed on healthy persons, are often likened to assault with a deadly weapon performed by the experimenter. The experiments usually involve equipment or drugs, which provides the 'weapon.' The experimenter's malice is indicated by the secrecy. Therefore, harmful results can be attributed to the malice, and the degree of damage indicates the degree of assault.

If the experimenter gets informed consent from the subject, the scenario transforms completely because the moral choice moves from the experimenter to the subject. With informed consent, the subject then becomes either a tragic hero if the procedure fails, or a successful hero if the procedure succeeds. The experimenter is then merely offering a brave volunteer an opportunity to contribute to human knowledge, and possibly benefit from the process.

Note that in both cases, "villain & victim," or "scientist & volunteer," the actual experiment might cause the same clinical results. However, the moral relationships of the participants are completely different.

Since casuistry is concerned with facts and actions, rather than theories, it is often remarkably easier to come to agreement. Although many ethical systems disagree about the justification for an action, the actions that they recommend are often remarkably similar. There can be many rationales for the same action, thus avoiding any single rationale or the necessity to agree on language seems to remove a major barrier to agreement. In legal terms, it removes the fear of setting precedent.

Such an action-focused approach to applied ethics is thus also less likely to conflict with informal ethical theories of politics, etiquette, aesthetics and arbitration - each of which implies their own concept of a valid precedent. In fact an approach based on casuistry involves practices from all of these - especially the production of hypothetical cases for deriving a common ethic - but does not permit the arbitrary introduction of precedents from any of them.

A specialized example of casuistry is a science court, in which scientists agree in advance what scientific theory would best explain a set of facts and thus what research program is recommended - making it extraordinarily difficult for scientists to disagree with that action if those facts turn out to be true. A similar approach can be taken to engineering and regulatory decisions, with advocates of different potential actions competing to establish themselves. These applications to public policy tend to resemble that of more traditional politics."

I don't particularly care for the style of this, and I am not well versed in "casuistry" so I'll leave it to others to see how much of this will be merged. Sam Spade 12:37, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC)

"forgot the word"[edit]

I changed "The selection of a paradigm case is justified by warrants, and opposed by ??? [forgot the word]." to "The selection of a paradigm case is justified by warrants." I'm afraid I know nothing about this, so would someone who knows this mysterious word please add it there? --Tothebarricades.tk 03:52, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

In contrast, a rigorous theoretical approach would find that such evidence is "not real evidence,"[edit]

What is the basis for this statement in the article? Illegally obtained evidence is still "real evidence", and certainly many scholars, prosecuters and much of the public has thought so. In the United States, the courts have just decided that the exclusionary rule is preferable to prosecuting law enforcement personale, for what are sometimes just technical violations. It is possible for the credibility of evidence to be tainted by the manner in which it is obtained but that is a different matter.--Silverback 07:45, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

There is a possible current example of the complexity of casuistry in the law. To this end, the originalists appeal to a written constitution for guidance, such as Scalia and Thomas might do to avoid the problems of casuistry or even sophistry in their written opinions, which are allededly detached from practical ethics, whereas the practical applications of law and ethics with no literal basis in the written constitution, or in some cases any persuasive literal guidance by elected members of Congress in laws and statutes, such as perceived by the public in written opinions by O'Connor, Souter and Kennedy, or even Stevens, Bryer and Ginsberg, like those of Blackman and Warren before them, seem to invite the public to perceive both the benefits and problems of casuistry in the majority decisions of the United States Supreme Court, since some times the public perceives that there is no appeal to such majority decisions short of a reversal by the court of its own decisions, or the need for the electorate to attempt to support an interventionist, activist president who will appont an originalaist candidate that can survive a filibuster in the Senate.

There is a possible current example of the complexity of casuistry in the law. To this end, the originalists appeal to a written constitution for guidance, such as Scalia and Thomas might do to avoid the problems of casuistry or even sophistry in their written opinions, which are allededly detached from practical ethics, whereas the practical applications of law and ethics with no literal basis in the written constitution, or in some cases any persuasive literal guidance by elected members of Congress in laws and statutes, such as perceived by the public in written opinions by O'Connor, Souter and Kennedy, or even Stevens, Bryer and Ginsberg, like those of Blackman and Warren before them, seem to invite the public to perceive both the benefits and problems of casuistry in the majority decisions of the United States Supreme Court, since some times the public perceives that there is no appeal to such majority decisions short of a reversal by the court of its own decisions, or the need for the electorate to attempt to support an interventionist, activist president who will appont an originalaist candidate that can survive a filibuster in the Senate.

Way over my head[edit]

Is this a term paper or something else like that? A law professor would understand this with no problem, but I didn't even know it was about law until I saw the category. I've tagged it as needing to be simplified. -Mulder416 18:17, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree with your comment- i added some titles and some info on GE Moores opinion on casuistry. --Greece666 19:10, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

I removed "the resolution of particular moral cases by the application" - I'm not necessarily opposed to the language, but I didn't understand what the paragraph was saying. Maybe a phrase was left out? Tom Harrison Talk 20:48, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

you did well, i mistakenly wrote this phrase there.
by the way the following is the definition of casuistry by the Shorter OED: "casuistry noun the reasoning of the casuist; the resolution of cases of conscience by the application of general rules to particular instances, freq. disclosing a conflict of duties; sophistry: E18." Maybe this helps the discussion.--Greece666 20:55, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

References[edit]

It seems like the bibliography of a paper has been dumped at the end of the article to support a list of otherwise unsubstantiated statements. It would be better if the individual sentences or paragraphs ("While the roots of Western casuistry can (at least) be traced back to Aristotle (384-322 BCE), the high point of casuistry occurred from approximately 1550 to 1650") were given citations. This particular statement, for example, seems quite misleading, even if the "at least" makes the first part technically true. Sumerian magistrates were deciding cases on the basis of casuistry as early as the third millennium BC, and the practice may have succeeded in an unbroken line from them to the Babylonians and Assyrians and on to the rest of the ancient world. One is also left wondering why the Jesuit use of casuistry during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, if one accepts the claim, constituted the "high point" of casuistry. As the article presently stands, one feels compelled to read all of the sources in the References before editing the article. modify 16:45, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

is such a long list of references necessary?--Greece666 22:39, 11 September 2006 (UTC)



Author of the "Adequate but oversimplified comment" above adds: The period from 1550 to 1650 is generally considered the period of "high casuistry" because there was a remarkable explosion of published treatises which explicitly focused on addressing "cases of conscience." It is true that casuistic methods may have been applied much earlier, but it was in the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries that the notion of a contingent morality (a morality contingent upon particular circumstances and intentions) became a truly central concern... so much so, in fact, that it profoundly destabilized the whole idea of truth and orthodoxy, leading to the barrage of cynical accusations of abuse and self-interest which were traded between Catholics and Protestants as they vied to prove the "truth" of their own views against the "abuses" of their opponents. I did not mean to suggest that there is something about Jesuit casuistry in particular which reached a "high point" (that is, I was not making an evaluative judgment); I was merely using the term used by scholars to denote the aforementioned period in history: the period of "high casuistry." Casuistry truly emerged and established itself as a respected and popular moral science in these years. More importantly, it also, for the first time, established the supremacy of the individual conscience (which was considered morally binding even when it erred!) which created tremendous anxiety about the nature of authority, but also laid the vital groundwork for arguments for religious toleration. (People began to recognize that they could not persecute others for following their consciences, since it was morally obligatory to heed what one perceived to be the voice of God, i.e., the conscience.) Hope that bit of information helps clarify some of the questions folks raised.


Taqiyya[edit]

Should a comparison be drawn between the religious use of casuistry and the muslim practice of taqiyya?

On the intro, it's well written - looks better than large parts of the article, which reproduce discussion contained at the top - but it should be concise.--Shtove 15:23, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

References[edit]

The following has been move here from the article. There is a difference between a list of books and papers and a set of references. Someone might like to re-insert the references that are actually used, and to add appropriate footnotes. Banno 08:34, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Since, per the article, the "Jesuit religious order extensively used casuistry", they would have undoubtedly recorded their thinking on the matter. Therefore, I am very surprised no such references appear in the list below, nor in the original article. To second and expand Banno's observation, I am surprised that of the references below, only four are before 1980, those four still being in the 20th century with publication dates of 1936, '67, '71 & '74, . My opinion of course, but it seems a rather narrow selection for a topic that has been around a long time. Dan Aquinas (talk) 18:51, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
Added back as standard Further Readings § 72.228.150.44 (talk) 07:00, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Not Really[edit]

Lede currently has "and often is a critique of principle- or rule-based reasoning". Probably meant or should be something like "and is often a shortcoming of case-based reasoning approaches, particular those which are not principled". 72.228.150.44 (talk) 06:56, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Actually that's a glaring error that contradicts the body of the article. 72.228.150.44 (talk) 07:34, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, but this article is utter garbage. The section on casuist ethics is appalling from the start. An ethicist doesn't begin with theory (how utterly backwards!), he ends with one. He begins from moral facts. The section makes it sound like moral facts don't exist and that the moral status of something is dependent on the selected theory (which of course makes one wonder how one could come to know the theory or possibly affirm it without having facts first). Clearly, this wasn't written by someone with an ounce of knowledge of ethics, or an ounce of common sense. I vote to delete the section. --~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.173.64.103 (talk) 01:58, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

"though Merriam-Webster lists the neutral one first"[edit]

M-W generally lists senses in historical order, so this doesn't give any indication of frequency or importance. Not R (talk) 18:17, 14 June 2014 (UTC)