Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The process of answering practical questions via interpretation of rules or cases that illustrate such rules, especially in ethics.
  • n. A specious argument designed to defend an action or feeling.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. The science or doctrine of dealing with cases of conscience, of resolving questions of right or wrong in conduct, or determining the lawfulness or unlawfulness of what a man may do by rules and principles drawn from the Scriptures, from the laws of society or the church, or from equity and natural reason; the application of general moral rules to particular cases.
  • adj. Sophistical, equivocal, or false reasoning or teaching in regard to duties, obligations, and morals.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In ethics, the solution of special problems of right and duty by the application of general ethical principles or theological dogmas; the answering of questions of conscience.
  • n. Hence Over-subtle and dishonest reasoning; sophistry.
  • n. In medicine, a recent, rare, and improper use for casuistics.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. moral philosophy based on the application of general ethical principles to resolve moral dilemmas
  • n. argumentation that is specious or excessively subtle and intended to be misleading

Etymologies

From casuist.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From casuist +‎ -ry. First recorded use in 1725. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Is not what they call casuistry a science among Roman

    Clara Hopgood

  • This casuistry is too much for Cromwell, who loses his composure for the first and only time:

    The Men Who Made England

  • We can see how and why the word casuistry received the particular coloring with which it is now connected.

    CASUISTRY

  • The word casuistry (literally “concern with individual cases”) has been used in three different, if connected meanings.

    CASUISTRY

  • For we repeat -- that the name, the word casuistry, may be evaded, but the thing cannot; nor _is_ it evaded in our daily conversations.

    Theological Essays and Other Papers — Volume 1

  • I’ve always found Catholic thought (e.g. the theology and philosophy of Aquinas) to be very legalistic, and to frequently engage in casuistry [in the non-pejorative sense of case-based reasoning], which closely resembles the common-law method in the U.S.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Why Catholics and Jews?

  • And this is what we mean by casuistry, which is the application of a moral principle to the _cases_ arising in human life.

    Theological Essays and Other Papers — Volume 2

  • But this casuistry, as well as lying open to the distortion Hogg attacks (for private interest can be a kind of casuistry too), forfeits Luther's clear point about religious support for secularism.

    Post-Secular Conviviality

  • By a casuistry which is now elevated into an economic principle, but which has no defenders outside the realm of banking, a warehouseman who deals in money is subject to a diviner law: the banker is free to use for his private interest and profit the money left in trust ....

    Borrowing from Peter to Pay Paul: The Wall Street Ponzi Scheme Called Fractional Reserve Banking

  • But an awful lot of it consists of what can be called in the purely technical sense a kind of casuistry, an application of certain moral systems or principles or theories to discussing what we should think about abortion.

    Bernard Williams

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Comments

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  • Dogs have tails,cats have tails therefore cats are dogs...this is faulty logic

    November 14, 2013

  • "Trim's casuistry and address, under the cover of his low bow, prevented all suspicion in my uncle Toby..." ---Tristram Shandy, Vol. IV, Ch. XVIII

    March 17, 2013

  • "He felt the ampulla in his cheek—undying mortal sin except by casuistry—and although he had long thought prayer in time of danger indecent, prayers sang in his mind, the long hypnotic cadences of plainchant imploring protection for his love."
    —Patrick O'Brian, The Surgeon's Mate, 366

    February 9, 2008

  • Hitchens on the casuistry of Chomsky in blaming the World Bank. p. 423

    December 3, 2006