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The Crisis of Authority in Catholic Modernity$
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Michael J. Lacey and Francis Oakley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199778775

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199778775.001.0001

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Retrieving and Reframing Catholic Casuistry

Retrieving and Reframing Catholic Casuistry

(p.225) 8 Retrieving and Reframing Catholic Casuistry
The Crisis of Authority in Catholic Modernity

M. Cathleen Kaveny

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines “casuistry,” the dominant mode of moral theology in the Roman Catholic Church that emphasizes the morally right—and the morally wrong—courses of action in a wide range of specific situations faced by Christians of all walks of life. It first offers a definition of casuistry that can account for both the manualist tradition and recent theoretical work on the topic as well as the phenomenon of case-based reasoning in the common law tradition. It then considers two sets of resources, one theoretical and one practical, that can reinvigorate interest in the Catholic casuistical tradition: the tradition theory of Alasdair MacIntyre and the Anglo-American common law tradition. It also explains how MacIntyre's tradition theory and the common law can be used to present a broader account of the context underlying the practice of good casuistry. The chapter concludes by recasting the Roman Catholic manualist tradition in an appropriate, broader context and discussing the benefits and preconditions of retrieving and reframing the Catholic casuistical tradition in a methodologically self-conscious manner.

Keywords:   casuistry, moral theology, Catholic Church, case-based reasoning, common law, casuistical tradition, tradition theory, Alasdair MacIntyre

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