Definition of casuistry in US English:



  • 1The use of clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions; sophistry.

    • ‘And he finishes with the sort of depraved casuistry he is always so eager to spot in his opponents.’
    • ‘Can we appropriate them in their simplicity, without falling into trivialization and reductionism, and in their complexity, without falling into casuistry?’
    • ‘When that logic is exposed, as in this case, as intellectual legerdemain, he retreats to pitiful, pleading casuistry.’
    • ‘If this isn't deliberate casuistry, it is at the very least severely myopic.’
    • ‘It has the ring of casuistry, of the often hypocritical moralist who declares unctuously that, while he hates the sin, he loves the sinner.’
    • ‘It must explain away historical shifts in values, culture, and the natural sciences with casuistry - either reinterpreting history's events or simply ignoring inconvenient facts.’
    • ‘To regard the Sermon on the Mount as an ‘interim ethic’ or a ‘kingdom ethic’ is casuistry.’
    • ‘He seems to confuse good governance with ‘political bullying’, and should take lessons in casuistry from someone.’
    • ‘At the root of all such casuistry is the inability of the comfortable inhabitants of the developed world to realise how bad the worst can be.’
    • ‘I will not attempt to hide my utter contempt for such casuistry, nor my shame that I work in and organisation where colleagues would resort to it to justify torture.’
    • ‘It speaks on its own accord, barking out those cheap casuistries and cliches that you use like so many crutches.’
    • ‘Is there a real difference, or are these distinctions just casuistry?’
    • ‘No doubt it may be said that this is mere casuistry and does not meet the objection that a person who has or believes he has a good defence may still feel under pressure to plead guilty.’
    • ‘However, can anyone really ignore the casuistry of reformers and politicians who insist on blaming ill health on drugs while, at the same time, financing their own campaigns from the profits of the manufacturers?’
    sophistry, specious reasoning, speciousness, sophism, chicanery, quibbling, equivocation, fallaciousness
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    1. 1.1 The resolving of moral problems by the application of theoretical rules to particular instances.
      • ‘The power of casuistry derives not from the application of maxims or the calculation of debts but from the responsive appreciation of other people's thinking; for Maurice, this is to say that it relies on guides and exemplars.’
      • ‘Impartial rule theory, casuistry, and virtue ethics are all consistent with rather than rivals of a principle-based account when it is properly conceived.’
      • ‘For decades, ‘Jesuitical’ became a term of abuse, signifying mental reservation, prevarication, and casuistry.’
      • ‘That is why the just war tradition is a theory of statecraft, not simply a method of casuistry.’
      • ‘The historical origins of double effect as a tenet of Catholic casuistry might provide a similar explanation for the unity of its applications.’
      • ‘This focus explains, for instance, contemporary fascination with such questions of casuistry as, e.g., the conditions under which an action like abortion is morally permitted or immoral.’
      • ‘In Minois' account, the questions raised towards the end of the sixteenth century were met in the seventeenth by an increasingly hard-line response within law, the clergy, and certain forms of thought such as casuistry.’
      • ‘These abstract principles are then applied to particular cases through a complex process called, of course, casuistry.’
      • ‘The Christian tradition of casuistry began at least as early as the Celtic Penitential Books of the sixth century.’
      • ‘Yet casuistry was always controversial, and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it became thoroughly discredited.’