Casuistry ( // KAZ-yoo-is-tree) is a process of reasoning that seeks to resolve moral problems by extracting or extending theoretical rules from a particular case, and reapplying those rules to new instances. This method occurs in applied ethics and jurisprudence. The term is also commonly used as a pejorative to criticize the use of clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions (as in sophistry).
The term and its agent noun "casuist" from c. 1600, ultimately derive from Latin noun casus ("case, occurrence, etc."); even from the earliest attestations, the concept was intended as pejorative.
The Oxford English Dictionary says, quoting Viscount Bolingbroke (1749), that the word "[o]ften (and perhaps originally) applied to a quibbling or evasive way of dealing with difficult cases of duty." Its textual references, except for certain technical usages, are consistently pejorative (e.g., "Casuistry destroys by distinctions and exceptions, all morality, and effaces the essential difference between right and wrong").Often since the 17th century, the word has always carried a connotation of "over-subtle reasoner, sophist."
Casuistry is the "[s]tudy of cases of conscience and a method of solving conflicts of obligations by applying general principles of ethics, religion, and moral theology to particular and concrete cases of human conduct. This frequently demands an extensive knowledge of natural law and equity, civil law, ecclesiastical precepts, and an exceptional skill in interpreting these various norms of conduct."It remains a common tool for applied ethics.
Casuistry dates from Aristotle (384–322 BC), yet the zenith of casuistry was from 1550 to 1650, when the Society of Jesus used case-based reasoning, particularly in administering the Sacrament of Penance (or "confession").The term casuistry or Jesuitism quickly became pejorative with Blaise Pascal's attack on the misuse of casuistry. Some Jesuit theologians, in view of promoting personal responsibility and the respect of freedom of conscience, stressed the importance of the 'case by case' approach to personal moral decisions and ultimately developed and accepted a casuistry (the study of cases of consciences) where at the time of decision, individual inclinations were more important than the moral law itself.
In Provincial Letters (1656–7)the French mathematician, religious philosopher and Jansenist sympathiser, Blaise Pascal vigorously attacked the moral laxism of Jesuits who used casuistic reasoning in confession to placate wealthy Church donors, while 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.
A British encyclopedia of 1900 claimed that it was "popularly regarded as an attempt to achieve holy ends by unholy means."
It was not until publication of The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning (1988), by Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin,that a revival of casuistry occurred. They argue that the abuse of casuistry is the problem, not casuistry per se (itself an example of casuistic reasoning). Properly used, casuistry is powerful reasoning. Jonsen and Toulmin offer casuistry in dissolving the contradictory tenets of moral absolutism and the common secular moral relativism: "the form of reasoning constitutive of classical casuistry is rhetorical reasoning". Moreover, the ethical philosophies of Utilitarianism (especially preference utilitarianism) and Pragmatism commonly are identified as greatly employing casuistic reasoning.
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, whose Summula casuum conscientiae (1627) 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. [ citation needed ]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 toward 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.The controversy divided Catholic theologians into two camps, Rigorists and Laxists.
Certain kinds of casuistry were criticized by early Protestant theologians, because it was used in order to justify 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. [ citation needed ]By the mid-18th century, "casuistry" had become a synonym for specious moral reasoning. However, Puritans were known for their own development of casuistry.
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.Despite this papal condemnation, both Catholicism and Protestantism permit the use of ambiguous and equivocal statements in specific circumstances.
G. E. Moore dealt with casuistry in chapter 1.4 of his Principia Ethica , in which he claims 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". Furthermore, he asserted that "casuistry is the goal of ethical investigation. It cannot be safely attempted at the beginning of our studies, but only at the end".
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.[ citation needed ]
Pope Francis, a Jesuit, has criticised utilizing casuistry, "the practice of setting general laws on the basis of exceptional cases," in instances where a more holistic approach would be more appropriate.
Applied ethics refers to the practical application of moral considerations. It is ethics with respect to real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadership. For example, the bioethics community is concerned with identifying the correct approach to moral issues in the life sciences, such as euthanasia, the allocation of scarce health resources, or the use of human embryos in research. Environmental ethics is concerned with ecological issues such as the responsibility of government and corporations to clean up pollution. Business ethics includes questions regarding the duties or duty of 'whistleblowers' to the general public or their loyalty to their employers.
Bioethics is the study of the ethical issues emerging from advances in biology and medicine. It is also moral discernment as it relates to medical policy and practice. Bioethics are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine and medical ethics, politics, law, theology and philosophy. It includes the study of values relating to primary care and other branches of medicine. Ethics also relates to many other sciences outside the realm of biological sciences.
Medical ethics is an applied branch of ethics which analyzes the practice of clinical medicine and related scientific research. Medical ethics is based on a set of values that professionals can refer to in the case of any confusion or conflict. These values include the respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. Such tenets may allow doctors, care providers, and families to create a treatment plan and work towards the same common goal. It is important to note that these four values are not ranked in order of importance or relevance and that they all encompass values pertaining to medical ethics. However, a conflict may arise leading to the need for hierarchy in an ethical system, such that some moral elements overrule others with the purpose of applying the best moral judgement to a difficult medical situation. Medical ethics is particularly relevant in decisions regarding involuntary treatment and involuntary commitment.
This Index of ethics articles puts articles relevant to well-known ethical debates and decisions in one place - including practical problems long known in philosophy, and the more abstract subjects in law, politics, and some professions and sciences. It lists also those core concepts essential to understanding ethics as applied in various religions, some movements derived from religions, and religions discussed as if they were a theory of ethics making no special claim to divine status.
Utilitarian bioethics refers to the branch of bioethics that incorporates principles of utilitarianism to directing practices and resources where they will have the most usefulness and highest likelihood to produce happiness, in regards to medicine, health, and medical or biological research.
Stephen Edelston Toulmin was a British philosopher, author, and educator. Influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Toulmin devoted his works to the analysis of moral reasoning. Throughout his writings, he sought to develop practical arguments which can be used effectively in evaluating the ethics behind moral issues. His works were later found useful in the field of rhetoric for analyzing rhetorical arguments. The Toulmin model of argumentation, a diagram containing six interrelated components used for analyzing arguments, and published in his 1958 book The Uses of Argument, was considered his most influential work, particularly in the field of rhetoric and communication, and in computer science.
A dilemma is a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is unambiguously acceptable or preferable. The possibilities are termed the horns of the dilemma, a clichéd usage, but distinguishing the dilemma from other kinds of predicament as a matter of usage.
Rhetorical reason is the faculty of discovering the crux of the matter. It is a characteristic of rhetorical invention (inventio) and it precedes argumentation.
Albert R. Jonsen was one of the founders of the field of Bioethics. He was Emeritus Professor of Ethics in Medicine at the University of Washington, School of Medicine, where he was Chairman of the Department of Medical History and Ethics from 1987-1999. After retiring from UW, he returned to San Francisco where he co-founded the Program in Medicine and Human Values at Sutter Health's California Pacific Medical Center in 2003.
Animal ethics is a branch of ethics which examines human-animal relationships, the moral consideration of animals and how nonhuman animals ought to be treated. The subject matter includes animal rights, animal welfare, animal law, speciesism, animal cognition, wildlife conservation, wild animal suffering, the moral status of nonhuman animals, the concept of nonhuman personhood, human exceptionalism, the history of animal use, and theories of justice. Several different theoretical approaches have been proposed to examine this field, in accordance with the different theories currently defended in moral and political philosophy. There is no theory which is completely accepted due to the differing understandings of what is meant by the term ethics; however, there are theories that are more widely accepted by society such as animal rights and utilitarianism.
Robert Paul Ramsey was an American Christian ethicist of the 20th century. He was a Methodist and a native of Mississippi. He graduated from Millsaps College in Mississippi and Yale University. The major portion of his academic career was spent as a tenured professor at Princeton University until the end of his life in 1988.
Vojin B. Rakic is a philosopher and political scientist. He publishes in English, but also in Serbian. He has a PhD in political science from Rutgers University in the United States. His publications on bioethics, Kant, and cosmopolitan justice are considered as influential writings in the international academic arena.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that examines right and wrong moral behavior, moral concepts and moral language. Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior". The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology.
Mark Siegler is an American physician who specializes in internal medicine. He is the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Chicago., He is the Founding Director of Chicago's MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Siegler has practiced and taught internal medicine at the University of Chicago for more than 50 years.
The philosophy of medicine is a branch of philosophy that explores issues in theory, research, and practice within the field of health sciences. More specifically in topics of epistemology, metaphysics, and medical ethics, which overlaps with bioethics. Philosophy and medicine, both beginning with the ancient Greeks, have had a long history of overlapping ideas. It was not until the nineteenth century that the professionalization of the philosophy of medicine came to be. In the late twentieth century debates among philosophers and physicians ensued of whether or not the philosophy of medicine should be considered a field of its own from either philosophy or medicine. A consensus has since been reached that it is in fact a distinct discipline with its set of separate problems and questions. In recent years there have been a variety of university courses, journals, books, textbooks and conferences dedicated to the philosophy of medicine. There is also a new direction, or school, in the philosophy of medicine termed analytic philosophy of medicine.
Henry Shattuck Richardson is an American philosopher, author, Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University, and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.
Michael J. Selgelid is a bioethicist and moral philosopher who has written on ethics and public health, biotechnology, and infectious diseases. He is the current director of the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University and of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Bioethics therein.
Françoise Elvina Baylis is a Canadian bioethicist whose work is at the intersection of applied ethics, health policy, and practice. The focus of her research is on issues of women's health and assisted reproductive technologies, but her research and publication record also extend to such topics as research involving humans, gene editing, novel genetic technologies, public health, the role of bioethics consultants, and neuroethics. Baylis' interest in the impact of bioethics on health and public policy as well as her commitment to citizen engagement and participatory democracy sees her engage with print, radio, television, and other online publications.
Moral enhancement, also called moral bioenhancement, is the use of biomedical technology to morally improve individuals. MBE is a growing topic in neuroethics, a field developing the ethics of neuroscience as well as the neuroscience of ethics. After Thomas Douglas introduced the concept in 2008, its merits have been widely debated in academic bioethics literature. Since then, Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu have been the most vocal MBE supporters. Much of the debate over MBE has focused on their 2012 book in support of it, Unfit for the Future? The Need for Moral Enhancement.
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