Paul Lynch

Entertaining moralities: Casuistry and the teaching of writing

Paul Lynch

  • School: Purdue University
  • Degree: PhD
  • Date: 2008 pp: 214
  • Advisor: Sullivan, Patricia
  • Committee Members: Blakesley, David; Rickert, Thomas; Weiser, Irwin; Johnson-Sheehan, Richard
  • Source: DAI-A 70/01, Jul 2009
  • Keywords:: Rhetoric, Casuistry, Ethics, Writing, Composition
  • Subjects: Rhetoric
  • ProQuest Document Number: 1674961521
  • UMI Number: AAT 3344073


        This dissertation offers casuistry


    • as a method of ethical decision-making that best complements rhetoric’s emphasis on context and situation. Because both rhetoric and ethics are species of phronesis, or practical wisdom, the revival of rhetoric over the last forty years has also revived an interest in rhetoric’s association with ethics. Some rhetorical scholars, however, have resisted what they see as the intrusion of a foundationalism that clashes with rhetoric’s anti-foundational assumptions.
    • Casuistry, which looks to precedents rather than principles when two goods conflict, offers a compromise that avoids both absolutism and relativism. The purpose of casuistry is not to devise a general rule, but rather a particular and limited judgment for a particular and limited case. Because no single rule can resolve every conflict of this kind, the casuist begins with the circumstances, examines them within a taxonomy of paradigm cases, and renders a judgment that applies only to the present case. Ultimately, this dissertation argues not only that casuistry is a potential rhetorical ethics, but also that a casuistic approach to writing instruction offers teachers a method of making probable judgments about how best to teach the uses of argument, the uses of discourse community, and the uses of literature in the writing classroom.