IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Casuistry as bioethical method: an empirical perspective


  • Braunack-Mayer, Annette


This paper examines the role that casuistry, a model of bioethical reasoning revived by Jonsen and Toulmin, plays in ordinary moral reasoning. I address the question: 'What is the evidence for contemporary casuistry's claim that every-day moral reasoning is casuistic in nature?' The paper begins with a description of the casuistic method, and then reviews the empirical arguments Jonsen and Toulmin offer to show that every-day moral decision-making is casuistic. Finally, I present the results of qualitative research conducted with 15 general practitioners (GPs) in South Australia, focusing on the ways in which these GP participants used stories and anecdotes in their own moral reasoning. This research found that the GPs interviewed did use a form of casuistry when talking about ethical dilemmas. However, the GPs' homespun casuistry often lacked one central element of casuistic reasoning -- clear paradigm cases on which to base comparisons. I conclude that casuistic reasoning does appear to play a role in every-day moral decision-making, but that it is a more subdued role than perhaps casuists would like.

Suggested Citation

  • Braunack-Mayer, Annette, 2001. "Casuistry as bioethical method: an empirical perspective," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 71-81, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:53:y:2001:i:1:p:71-81

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Britt, David W. & Evans, Mark I., 2007. "Sometimes doing the right thing sucks: Frame combinations and multi-fetal pregnancy reduction decision difficulty," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(11), pages 2342-2356, December.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:53:y:2001:i:1:p:71-81. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.