The Case Against the New Casuistry

Mahesh Ananth, Bowling Green State University

Casuistry or case-based analysis is one of the methodologies employed by bioethicists and clinicians to address the many complex medical decisions that most people must face at one time or another in their lives. Casuists declare firmly that the only way to resolve the complex issues in medical settings is to focus simply on the actual details of specific cases and then determine what to do in the given cases. Notably, casuistry is manifest in the current literature in at least four distinct permutations: (1) Albert Jonsen’s and Stephen Toulmin’s “Single-Paradigm” formula, (2) Baruch Brody’s “Model of Conflicting Appeals, ” (3) Mark Kuczewski’s “Communitarian Casuistry,” and (4) Carson Strong’s “Two-Paradigm” version of casuistry. To make this inquiry tractable, I will provide an account of a version of casuistry offered by Jonsen and Toulmin [hereafter JT]. Next, I will provide some of the central criticisms of this approach that would appear to render it rather moribund. I will then explain and evaluate Carson Strong’s recent attempt to defend the JT strategy. My analysis will reveal that Strong’s defense of the JT version of casuistry is not nearly as puissant as he purports. The final upshot of this analysis, which includes two criticisms of my own, will make clear that casuistry-at least JT’s version of it-is inadequate as a serious methodological framework from which to make difficult decisions in medical settings.

One method of encouraging civil debate when ethics issues arise is by working toward increased ethical literacy in the hunting community. I propose eight steps that would help hunters and non-hunters interested in ethics to establish a common base to begin discussions of ethical dilemmas. These steps include teaching standards for the instructors, a set curriculum, a mentoring program, and stricter requirements for first-time hunters in a state.

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