I was searching through Blindness by José Saramago (whose title should be Essay on Blindness if they had translated it completely), and found the word casuistic, the adjective form of casuistry, which means (from Word’s built-in dictionary):

  1. The application of general rules and principles to questions of ethics and morals in order to resolve them.
  2. The use of sophisticated and subtle argument and reasoning, especially on moral issues, in order to justify something or mislead somebody.

Or, if you prefer the Oxford English dictionary’s definition:

That part of Ethics which resolves cases of conscience, applying the general rules of religion and morality to particular instances in which ‘circumstances alter cases’, or in which there appears to be a conflict of duties. Often (and perhaps originally) applied to a quibbling or evasive way of dealing with difficult cases of duty; sophistry.

I like the word because it’s what I do (except for the quibbling, misleading part, of course). In its negative connotation, the word is akin to sophistry and, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, Jesuitry.

PatrickWords04/22/04 0 comments

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