The casuistic method of practical ethics

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 37 (5):417-431 (2016)

This essay concerns itself with the methodology of practical ethics. There are a variety of methods employed in ethics. Although none have been firmly established as dominant, it is generally agreed that casuistry, or the case-based method, is one important strategy commonly used for resolving ethical issues. Casuists compare the case under consideration to a relevantly similar precedent case in which judgements have already been made, and they use these earlier judgements to determine the proper resolution of the present case. In this article, I try to provide a better understanding of the nature of contemporary casuistry. To accomplish this, I explain the basic features of casuistic reasoning. The second section focuses on the logic of casuistry. By assessing casuistic reasoning from the logical viewpoint, casuistry can be reconstructed as a logically correct method of reasoning. The third section looks at casuistry from the epistemic point of view and investigates the justificatory force of casuistic reasoning. Finally, in the fourth section, I show the usefulness of formal casuistry.
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DOI 10.1007/s11017-016-9382-8
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