The campaign for president in the United States is bringing out some strange things in a lot people. There's a lot that could be, and in fact has been, said about that. I'm not going to dwell on that topic today. Instead, I'd like to discuss something which arose from an example of it. Specifically, I would like people's opinion on whether or not these two statements are examples of bigoted language:
No amount of Jesuit casuitry is going to make most of those she insulted think or feel she apologized.
So: no amount Jesuit causistry is going to turn her not-apology into an apology. It’s not an apology.
Mind you, I am not asking if the person who made them is a bigot. People sometimes use bigoted language without realizing it, often because they were exposed to it growing up and never really thought about what it meant.
I suspect a lot of you don't know what "casuitry," "causistry" or "causuistry” is. That's okay. All of these are ways people in that discussion misspelled the word "casuistry." To help with this, I explained a bit about the word during that discussion, and I will copy it below for context:
The word actually stems from a philosophical approach to examining problems. Put simply, the approach uses “case studies” in which one examines simple examples to determine what should be done then extrapolates from those simple cases to determine what should be done in more complex cases. This has a lot of similarities to how the legal system works in the United States with cases setting precedent for future decisions.
The negative connotation of casuistry came about due to people abusing this philosophical approach to support selfish views and beliefs. A group commonly associated with this practice was Jesuits several hundred years ago (though non-Jesuit Catholics contributed to the movement as well). Many people saw the abuses of the approach and came to distrust it. This was especially prevalent amongst Protestants who came to view casuistry as a way for Catholics to justify hypocrisy.
This negative association of casuistry with the abuses of Catholics, especially those who were Jesuits, caused the word to be commonly used like in the definition I quote above. That usage remained common long after Catholics abandoned casuistry, persisting for centuries up to modern times. Over those centuries, “casuistry” came to be just another word with a meaning similar to “sophistry.” The association with Jesuits was largely forgotten amongst most people.
Because that association was largely forgotten, nowadays the only time you’ll really hear about “Jesuit casuistry” is when people are talking about things like religion and history where the philosophical methodology is being referred to. This topic has actually garnered more attention in the last few decades as people have re-visited the philosophical approach behind casuistry to argue it was abuses of the methodology, not the methodology itself, which was the problem.
The result of all this is when a person says “casuistry,” the normal interpretation is that of the common usage – something along the lines of sophistry. When a person says “Jesuit casuistry,” the normal interpretation is the use and abuse of the philosophical methodology by certain Catholics several hundred years ago.
There is obviously a lot more which could be said about casuistry. One interesting topic (to me, at least) is whether or not it is a good approach. A common hilosophical approach is like that of mathematics - we start with axioms or rules we decide are true and build our system of beliefs/analysis off them. Under this approach, a few simple assumptions can lay the foundation for a complex structure of hundreds or thousands of components.
Casuistry takes a different approach. Instead of trying to come up with a few key tenets everyone can agree to, it looks at specific scenarios and asks people to decide what is "right" for them. Under this approach, people with fundamental differences in their belief systems can find similarities (or differences) on smaller scales by seeing how they'd handle similar situations. This lets people see how their beliefs relate to those of others on a practical level rather than an abstract level.
But none of that really matters for today's topic. For today's topic, I just want to know this: What information would saying a person engaged in "Jesuit casuistry" convey that saying they engaged in "casuistry" not convey? The person who wrote those comments chose not to offer any explanation, saying:
Yes. Jesuit is clarifying. There is also “rabinnical casuistry”, “pluralistic casuistry’, “scientific causuistry”, “episcoppalian casuistry” , “protestant causuitry” and so on. All these adjectives all communicate something– and they communicate something specific about how causistry is used. And that something specific is more than pointing to a specific religion. How it was used, for what outcomes and so on differed.
Brandon is beclowing himself. I don’t feel any need to engage him on his imaginative (and long winded) theories. Had he simply asked early on why I picked that adjective, I would have happily explained. But at this point, he’s come up with an elaborate imaginitive theory, flung around accusations accompanied by words of wall….. Sorry. No. I’d rather talk with others.
Because I called that choice of langauge bigoted and explained:
The only way [name removed] saying “Jesuit casuistry” made her meaning clearer than if she had simply said “casuistry” is if she wanted to draw some association between what I was saying and either religious groups or the specific abuses they carried out several hundred years ago. If she merely wanted to say I was engaging in something like sophistry, “casuistry” was the right word as “Jesuit” has nothing to do with the common usage we have nowadays. If she wanted to say I was engaging in an approach like the philosophical methodology underlying casuistry, the use of “Jesuit” was inappropriate as neither that methodology nor the abuses of it were a Jesuit phenomenon. Jesuits were simply one group which used and abused that methodology.
According to the speaker, I am wrong because there is useful information conveyed by saying a person engaged in "Jesuit casuistry" as opposed to "Casuistry," "Rabbinical Casuistry," "Protestant Casuistry" or any number of other types of "Casuistry." The speaker chose not to say what information was conveyed by these, and I struggle to see what they could possibly be thinking of. Given they've basically said they won't explain, I thought I'd ask is as an open question.
Now obviously, if a Catholic and a Protestant are having a religious argument, one might refer to "Protestant Casuistry" and "Catholic Casuistry." That's because there's a clear, religious aspect which you're referring to. I am not Catholic, however, and neither religion nor history nor philosophy were being discussed in the conversation. Given that, what information could "Jesuit Casuistry" possibly convey that "Casuistry" would not?
To me, it seems clear the speaker's use of "Jesuit" was superfluous and served no useful purpose. If that's true, it was bigoted language. The speaker insists that isn't true though, and useful information was conveyed by the use of "Jesuit." Today's question is what, if any, information could they be thinking of?
As a final note, I should point out the main motivation for this post is I think bigotry is disgusting and we should all agree to not promote it. In theory, most people do. In practice, there is disagreement about what constitutes "bigotry." I view this as a clear case of bigotry. The speaker insists it isn't bigoted at all. This should largely be a factual matter which could, and should, be resolved.
I tried resolving it with the speaker, and since that wasn't effective, I thought I'd try with other people. Am I missing something that justifies saying a non-Catholic talking about a non-religious and non-philosophical issue is engaging in "Jesuit casuistry" as opposed to "casuistry"?