Casuistry (Latin casus, " case " ) generally refers to the consideration of individual cases in a particular field.


The term casuistry can be found in various scientific disciplines, particularly in jurisprudence, philosophical ethics and medicine.


Casuistry is a jurisdiction in which the current legal situation is not determined by abstract legal norms (laws, regulations ), but according to previous court decisions ( precedents ). Casuistry is characterized by judge-made law and not by statute law. The starting point is found in the legal norm of the individual case ( " casus "), which generalizes. The word " casus " comes from the Roman law, the compressed a large number of individual cases, and rose to general rules. Casuistry forcing the subsumption of the case under previous, decided by courts of other individual cases ( precedents ) to deduce the "correct" decision from a. By casuistry, however, are necessarily incurred legal loopholes that can be largely prevented by general clauses or abstract legal language in the statute law. However, no legal system can completely dispense with a case-based casuistry ultimately. However, the generalization ( abstraction) in laws entails the risk that they are meaningless and more life situations apply as it corresponded to the original laws will.

The Anglo-Saxon Case Law and Islamic Law ( " sharia " ) have remained in case reports and are intended both to prevent an alien to life normativism and formalism, on the other hand they are subject to the risk of being confusing. But even in the case report form in the course of time due to the accumulation of many individual cases of abstract rules and principles out. Casuistic approaches can be found in German law, particularly where the legislation of the current, rapidly changing life situation lags behind. This is especially the case in tax law, commercial law or media law.

Pros and Cons of casuistry:

Philosophical ethics and Catholic moral theology

In philosophical ethics and Catholic moral theology is the casuistry of part of ethics which determines for possible cases of practical life by a system of commandments the correct behavior. Originally from the repertoire of practical philosophy casuistry is not uniformly understood. On the one hand, the term in a broader sense, an empirical method, which proceeds according to analogies and similarities, on the other hand, he understands hereunder in the strict sense, the logical subsumption by law.


The clinical medicine uses the term in the description of the individual, often paradigmatic and propaedeutic case reports of the disease. The analysis of individual cases and their evaluation are viewed as the sole source of knowledge. Where general principles recognized, they gain their plausibility only from individual cases. The direction of analysis is inductive.

Colloquial language

Colloquially, the word is often used disparagingly for hair-splitting casuistry, subtle reasoning or Wortverdreherei.