Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Casuistry

Casuistry, a kind of ecclesiastical case-law, which, by precedent and principle, declares the moral nature and value of an action with reference to a certain theological standard. The employment of casuistry has arisen out of the difference made between mortal and venial sin, the fact of a certain action being in the one category or the other depending upon a number of conditions, such as motive, opportunities of knowledge, or the like. The standards upon which the system of casuistry is based are Scripture, reason, the canons of the Church, and the opinion of eminent theologians. It is said to have originated with St. Raymond in 1228, and has been greatly developed since that time, culminating, perhaps, in the last century with St. Alfonso Liguori. But it is by no means confined to the Roman Church. The Jews had a system of casuistry in the Talmud. It is mentioned in the New Testament apropos of oaths by the altar or the gift on the altar; and in the Old Testament, when Naaman asks pardon beforehand for bowing himself in the house of Rimmon when in attendance upon his master, and the prophet bids him "go in peace," the principle of casuistry was certainly applied. It is a system well known to English law, and the satirical supposed case of the "black and white horses" was an application of it.