It is often used to described “applied” ethics — that branch of moral questioning which evaluates and analyzes an actual case, as opposed to a theoretical artifice constructed for purely pedagogic purposes, devoid of flesh and substantive import. No longer constrained by the ivory tower of hypothetical unversality, and thus vacuous of feeling, real empathy and true relationships, casuistry naturally devolves into sophistry, where self-interested motives become ensconced.
Devolution denotes a denigration of sorts; such a statement is not deliberate in its alliterative force, but an antidotal utterance in contrast to the Dawinian consort of progressive genetic advancement; and it is precisely because self-interest betrays itself in such instances, by attempting to justify the very basis of its validity in a flawed methodological argumentation.
Sophistry, of course, connotes bad logic; moreover, it often implies a deliberate self-knowledge of utilization of such flawed rationale, despite “knowing better”, precisely because the debater wants to conceal the self-interested motive by engaging in a cover-up by effusive elongations of elaborate textiles of tactless show-boating housed in linguistic gymnastics of confounding conundrums.
Russell was good at this; Wittgenstein, better; and Heidegger the ever superior in concealment of his underlying Third Reich connections. It is, indeed, difficult to demarcate the two; for it is casuistry which necessarily devolves into sophistry, and sophistry forming the foundational basis of casuistry; but as to which came first, the chicken or the egg, one can only guess at.
When self-interested motivations are involved, where justification of actions cannot be bifurcated from the involvement of the personal pronoun, the devolution of antagonism by self-preservation into anarchy for protective reasons will naturally follow. Can an individual separate the underlying insinuation of self-interestedness from a discussion involving one’s self, if the outcome will impact the life, livelihood and living circumstances involved? Perhaps. But unlikely, and rare in its substantive occurrence. For, the very conceptual constructs involved are oxymoronic at best, and blatantly self-contradictory, at worst.
To maintain integrity where self-interested motivations follow, and then to engage in valid logical argumentation devoid of a devolved sense of self, is a high price to pay, and a higher standard to bear.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, this conundrum is indeed the flashpoint of being able to prepare such an effective Federal Disability Retirement application. For, it is precisely the “self” which must be discussed, the “I” which by necessity be inserted, into the discussion of attempting to justify the nexus between one’s medical condition and the inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.
In doing so, an expansive delineation must be posited on SF 3112A, where by a preponderance of the evidence, the Federal or Postal employee must prove the formulated connection between the medical condition and the inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of the job. In doing so, take care to guard against a casuistic argument devolving into a sophistry of incalculable innuendo of self-interested flaws. It is the hubris of man, as Shakespeare always reveals throughout his tragedies.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire