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Open Access Moral Theology, Culture of Counsel, and the Society of Jesus in the Seventeenth Century

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Moral Theology, Culture of Counsel, and the Society of Jesus in the Seventeenth Century

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This paper explores the connection between the early modern debates over Probabilism and political counsel. It argues that the issue of counsel was important in the polemics against Jesuit moral theology. Theological challenges to Probabilism clearly show that many intellectuals were worried it could lead political counsellors astray and encourage them to defer to the whims of political authorities. This was not merely a theoretical issue. Three French cases evidence the fact that political counsellors could claim an obligation to put obedience to their sovereign before obedience to religious authority—the pope in particular—on religious grounds. The discussion between anti-probabilists and probabilists during the second half of the seventeenth century shows the degree of unrest among theological and ecclesiastical authorities confronted with the demands of the state on individual conscience, and on the conscience of counsellors in particular.

Affiliations: 1: Université Catholique de Louvain, jpgay@uclouvain.be

This paper explores the connection between the early modern debates over Probabilism and political counsel. It argues that the issue of counsel was important in the polemics against Jesuit moral theology. Theological challenges to Probabilism clearly show that many intellectuals were worried it could lead political counsellors astray and encourage them to defer to the whims of political authorities. This was not merely a theoretical issue. Three French cases evidence the fact that political counsellors could claim an obligation to put obedience to their sovereign before obedience to religious authority—the pope in particular—on religious grounds. The discussion between anti-probabilists and probabilists during the second half of the seventeenth century shows the degree of unrest among theological and ecclesiastical authorities confronted with the demands of the state on individual conscience, and on the conscience of counsellors in particular.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22141332-00402005
2017-03-10
2018-09-25

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