Volume 12 Number 1
  • ISSN 2211-4742
  • E-ISSN: 2211-4750
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The Holy Scriptures can be considered a specific kind of normative texts, whose use to assess practical moral cases requires interpretation. In the field of ethics, this interpretative problem results in the necessity of bridging the gap between the normative source – moral precepts – and the specific cases. In the history of the Church, this problem was the core of the so-called casuistry, namely the decision-making practice consisting in applying the Commandments and other principles of the Holy Scriptures to specific cases or moral problems. By taking into account the sin of lying, this paper argues that casuistic texts reveal an extremely sophisticated interpretative method, grounded on “pragmatic” contextual and communicative considerations and argumentative structures that resemble the ones used in legal interpretation. These works show how the underspecified biblical text expressing an abstract norm was enriched pragmatically by completing it and modulating its meaning so that it could be used to draw a conclusion in a specific context on a specific case. The mutual interdependence between biblical interpretation, pragmatics, and argumentation sheds light on a much broader phenomenon, namely the pragmatic nature of argumentation.


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