What is probabilism?

  • (noun): A Roman Catholic system of casuistry that when expert opinions differ an actor can follow any solidly probable opinion that he wishes even though some different opinion might be more probable.
    See also — Additional definitions below


In theology and philosophy, probabilism (from Latin probare, to test, approve) refers to an ancient Greek doctrine of academic skepticism. It holds that in the absence of certainty, probably probability is the best criterion. It can also refer to a 17th century religious thesis about ethics, or a modern physical-philosophical thesis.

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Some articles on probabilism:

Catholic Probabilism
... In Catholic moral theology, probabilism provides a way of answering the question about what to do when one does not know what to do ... Probabilism proposes that one can follow a probable opinion regarding whether an act may be performed morally, even though the opposite opinion is more probable ...
Catholic Probabilism - Status of The Question - Arguments For Probabilism - External Arguments
... Probabilism, if untrue, is seriously detrimental to the spiritual life of the faithful, since it permits actions which ought to be forbidden, and the Church cannot ... But the Church during many centuries has tolerated probabilism, and has given it approval in the person of St ... Hence probabilism is not a false system of morals ...
Probabilism - Philosophy
... In ancient Greek philosophy, probabilism referred to the doctrine which gives assistance in ordinary matters to one who is skeptical in respect of the ... Academic skeptics accept probabilism, while Pyrrhonian skeptics do not ...
Catholic Probabilism - History of Probabilism
... Medina in Salamanca late in the 16th century, probabilism was widely held by respected Catholic theologians, including many Jesuits and Dominicans, for the next century ... Jesuits such as Gabriel Vasquez further developed probabilism, distinguishing intrinsic, argument-based probabilism and extrinsic, authority-based ... Abuses of probabilism led to moral laxism such as that of Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz ...
Catholic Probabilism - Status of The Question - Arguments Against Probabilism
... But probabilism is not certain, because it is rejected by all those theologians who upheld one or another of the opposing views ... Hence probabilism cannot be accepted as a satisfactory solution of the question at issue ... Probabilism is seen by some Catholic authorities as an easy road to Laxism, because people are often inclined to regard opinions as really probable which are based on flimsy arguments ...

More definitions of "probabilism":

  • (noun): (philosophy) the doctrine that (since certainty is unattainable) probability is a sufficient basis for belief and action.