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Products for grant FA-57564-14

Probabilism in Early Modern Europe: Epistemology, Politics, and Moral Theology
Stefania Tutino, University of California, Santa Barbara

Grant details:

Uncertainty in Post-Reformation Catholicism. A History of Probabilism (Book)
Title: Uncertainty in Post-Reformation Catholicism. A History of Probabilism
Abstract: This book provides a historical account of the development and implications of early modern probabilism. First elaborated in the sixteenth century, probabilism represented a significant and controversial novelty in Catholic moral theology. Against a deep-seated tradition defending the strict application of moral rules, probabilist theoogians maintained that in situations of uncertainty, the agent can legitimately follow any course of action supported by a probable opinion, no matter how disputable. By the second half of the seventeenth century, and thanks in part to Pascal’s influential antiprobabilist stances, probabilism had become inextricably linked to the Society of Jesus and to a lax and excessively forgiving moral system. To this day, most historians either ignore probabilism, or they associate it with moral duplicity and intellectual and cultural decadence. By contrast, this book argues that probabilism was instrumental for addressing the challenges created by a geographically and intellectually expanding world. Early modern probabilist theologians saw that these challenges provoked an exponential growth of uncertainties, doubts, and dilemmas of conscience, and they realized that traditional theology was not equipped to deal with them. Therefore, they used probabilism to integrate changes and novelties within the post-Reformation Catholic theological and intellectual system. Seen in this light, probabilism represented the result of their attempts to appreciate, come to terms with, and manage uncertainty. Uncertainty continues to play a central role even today. Thus, learning how early modern probabilists engaged with uncertainty might be useful for us as we try to cope with our own moral and epistemological doubts.
Year: 2017
Primary URL:
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: ISBN: 97801906
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes