Part I History of Ethics
Life of Socrates
Part II Concepts and Problems
Normative Ethics and Applied Ethics
Part III Applied Ethics
Field of Applied Ethics
Case-Based Moral Reasoning (informed by Beauchamp and Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 4th edition)
Case-Based Reasoning argues that "...moral belief and knowledge evolve incrementally through reflection on cases, without essential recourse to a top-down theory." In this belief, case-based moral reasoning is analogous to case law ("Social ethics develops from a social consensus this consensus is then extended to new cases by analogy to past cases " (95)
Certain paradigm cases like Quinlan and the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment become sources of authority for new judgments. "Just as case law (legal rules) develops incrementally from legal decisions in cases, so the moral law (moral rules) develops incrementally" (96)
Critical Evaluation of Casuistry
"Interpretation of cases is essential for moral judgment and principles and theories typically play a legitimate role in the interpretation" (97) Furthermore, principles can be held prior to judging cases and then selected and weighed in the particular circumstances.
"Casuists have no clear methodological resources to prevent a biased development of cases Without some stable framework of general norms, there is no control on judgment and no way to prevent prejudiced or poorly formulated social conventions" (97)
Constructive Evaluation of Casuistry
Despite criticisms, we must note the importance of analogical reasoning, paradigm cases, and practical judgment as an avenue to moral knowledge. (99) Furthermore, ethical generalizations are often best learned, accommodated, and implemented by using cases, case discussion and case methods. (99) Finally, sensitivity to context and individual differences is often essential for a discerning use of principles. (100)
Overview of Jonsen and Toulmin's Abuse of Casusitry.