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an oversubtle or disingenuous reasoner, especially in questions of morality.
a person who studies and resolves moral problems of judgment or conduct arising in specific situations.
Historical Examples

In Spain, the great Jesuit casuist Escobar led the way, and rarely had been seen such exquisite hair-splitting.
History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom Andrew Dickson White

“Pooh, she didn’t—she only nodded—nodding isn’t a lie,” a casuist scoffed.
The Story of Louie Oliver Onions

How would the casuist decide for so sweet, so big, so heroic a deception—or the attempt?
Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp

Except when it’s a case of selling patent medicines, I’m not a casuist.
A Prairie Courtship Harold Bindloss

As an introduction, I will state my story—the case for the casuist; and then say one word on the reason of the case.
The Uncollected Writings of Thomas de Quincey, Vol. 2 Thomas de Quincey

Many others are put so as to suggest what the casuist never said, that is a special case is made a general rule of morals.
The Jesuits, 1534-1921 Thomas J. Campbell

The shiftiest excuse would have brought solace to a breaking heart and conviction to a casuist brain.
A Book of Scoundrels Charles Whibley

He was not a casuist, and, having no time for reflection, saw only one course open to him.
The League of the Leopard Harold Bindloss

He modestly referred his friend to Dr. Barlow, as a far more able casuist, though not a more cordial friend.
Coelebs In Search of a Wife Hannah More

I am no casuist, Milly, but I think that the impression a man makes by his character for resolution is always of consequence.
A Rent In A Cloud Charles James Lever

a person, esp a theologian, who attempts to resolve moral dilemmas by the application of general rules and the careful distinction of special cases
a person who is oversubtle in his or her analysis of fine distinctions; sophist

c.1600, “one who studies and resolves cases of conscience,” from French casuiste (17c.) or Spanish casuista (the French word also might be from Spanish), Italian casista, all from Latin casus (see case (n.1)) in its Medieval Latin sense “case of conscience.” Often since 17c. in a sinister or contemptuous sense. Related: Casuistic; casuistical; casuistically; casuistry.

Casuistry … destroys, by distinctions and exceptions, all morality, and effaces the essential difference between right and wrong. [Bolingbroke, 1736]


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  • Casuistic

    pertaining to casuists or casuistry. oversubtle; intellectually dishonest; sophistical: casuistic distinctions. Historical Examples These last are perhaps to be regarded as casuistic discussions like those which play such a large part in Jewish tradition. The Literature and History of New Testament Times J. Gresham (John Gresham) Machen This is the position of the casuistic mystic […]

  • Casuistry

    specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality; fallacious or dishonest application of general principles; sophistry. the application of general ethical principles to particular cases of conscience or conduct. Contemporary Examples The responses were telling in their casuistry, their amorality, their evasiveness. The Hearing From Hell Tunku Varadarajan April 26, 2010 These questions […]

  • Casus-belli

    an event or political occurrence that brings about a declaration of war. noun (pl) casus belli (ˈkɑːsʊs ˈbɛliː) an event or act used to justify a war the immediate cause of a quarrel n. 1849, from Latin casus “case” (see case (n.1)) + belli, genitive of bellum “war” (see bellicose). An act justifying war.

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