casuistryˈkæʒ u ə stri
argumentation that is specious or excessively subtle and intended to be misleading
moral philosophy based on the application of general ethical principles to resolve moral dilemmas
The process of answering practical questions via interpretation of rules or cases that illustrate such rules, especially in ethics.
A specious argument designed to defend an action or feeling.
Casuistry, or case-based reasoning, is a method in applied ethics and jurisprudence, often characterised as a critique of principle- or rule-based reasoning. The word "casuistry" derives from the Latin casus. Casuistry is reasoning used to resolve moral problems by extracting or extending theoretical rules from particular instances and applying these rules to new instances. The term is also commonly used as a pejorative to criticize the use of clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions. The agreed meaning of "casuistry" is in flux. The term can be used either to describe a presumably acceptable form of reasoning or a form of reasoning that is inherently unsound and deceptive. Most or all philosophical dictionaries list the neutral sense as the first or only definition. On the other hand, the Oxford English Dictionary states that the word "[o]ften 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. Most online dictionaries list a pejorative meaning as the primary definition before a neutral one, though Merriam-Webster lists the neutral one first. In journalistic usage, the pejorative use is ubiquitous and examples of the neutral usage are not found.