instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Statics and dynamics

No, really, this isn't another post in the torture debate. I'm simply pointing out a distinction that might, incidentally, be of critical importance to that debate.

The distinction is between a moral taxonomy -- the classification of objective acts according to their morality, and of the moral effects intent and circumstances can have on these classes of objective acts -- and a moral casuistry -- the determination of the moral character of a specific instance of a moral act, including its object, intent, and circumstances.

While casuistry requires some sort of moral taxonomy, it doesn't come free with the taxonomy. And working on the one while you think you're working on the other can lead to big problems. (Of course, I'm not keen on casuistry anyway, but that's another matter.)