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From casuist +‎ -ry. First recorded use in 1725.



casuistry (countable and uncountable, plural casuistries)

  1. The process of answering practical questions via interpretation of rules, or of cases that illustrate such rules, especially in ethics; case-based reasoning.
    Synonym: casuistics
    • 1842, [anonymous collaborator of Letitia Elizabeth Landon], chapter XXX, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 85:
      The letters of Margarita were all that the fondest lover could desire, the eye of a poet linger on, but they did not contain the casuistry which could lead Glentworth to renounce a faith which he had now been led to examine in a manner he had certainly never done before.
    • 1968, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, translated by Sidney Monas, Crime and Punishment, published 1866:
      And yet it would seem that the whole analysis he had made, his attempt to find a moral solution to the problem, was complete. His casuistry had been honed to a razor’s edge, and he could no longer think of any objections.
    • 1995, Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, →ISBN, page 47:
      “And if you lose?” Diana enunciated, through a thin grin. She meant to extract casuistry’s penalty in advance.
  2. (derogatory) A specious argument designed to defend an action or feeling.
    Synonyms: excuse, legalism, rationalization, sophistry
    Hyponym: euhemerization

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