Casuistry: Case-Based Ethical Reasoning

Report
The
Persistence of
Casuistry:
the Revival of
Case-Based Reasoning
I. casuistry defined
II. casuistry despised
III. casuistry rehabilitated
IV. casuistry in the classroom
I. casuistry defined
abortion
45% prolife
49% prochoice
Gallup poll July 2011
27% legal under any
circumstance
22% illegal in any
circumstance
50% legal only under
certain circumstances
confession
Casuistry: an example
in ju ry
n o h arm
fo o lin g aro u n d
< 3 o z.
th ro w in g ice
in ca fé
size o f
ice
1st tim e
m alicio u s in ten t
3rd tim e
in ju ry
n o in ju ry
1 pound
II. casuistry despised
Protagoras - sophist
Plato
428 –
427
B.C.E.
"...it is a lesser sin if a man seduces a
beautiful woman than an ugly one, for
he is compelled by beauty, and, where
there is greater compulsion, there is
less sin."
Alain of Lille (12th century)
1556 – 1656
“high casuistry”
Jesuits
1660
Casuistry –
“the art of quibbling with God.”
Penny Encyclopedia 1836
Casuistry destroys by distinctions and
exceptions all morality, and effaces the
essential difference between right and
wrong.
Oxford English Dictionary
no tolerance policies
III. casuistry rehabilitated
1988
Catholic Priest
Canon Law
Ethicist
utilitarian
principles
Rabbi
Torah
CONCLUSION
Baptist Minister
Christian
scripture
Witholding life
support is the
best moral
choice in this
case.
Lawyer
case
precedent
Atheist Nurse
human
compassion
Agnostic M.D.
professional
ethics
Accountant
financial
concerns
ethics as
deductive reason
Lying is morally wrong.
The bishop lied to the police.
The bishop’s action was morally
wrong.
“He condemned nothing hastily or
without taking account of
circumstances…he had none
of the inaccessibility of a rigid
moralist.”
Victor Hugo on
Bishop Myriel in
Les Miserables (13)
It is the mark of an educated man to look for
precision in each class of things just so far as
the nature of the subject matter admits.
Aristotle
Nicomachean Ethics
1094b24-26
Cicero 106-43 B.C.E.
“It is hard work to be excellent … To do
this to the right person, to the right
extent, at the right time, with the right
motive, that is not for everyone, nor is it
easy…”
Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 1109a
IV. casuistry in the classroom
start with detailed cases
explore differences
between cases
work out a taxonomy
in ju ry
n o h arm
fo o lin g aro u n d
< 3 o z.
th ro w in g ice
in ca fé
size o f
ice
1st tim e
m alicio u s in ten t
3rd tim e
in ju ry
n o in ju ry
1 pound

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