Radical contextualists have observed that the content of what is said by the utterance of a sentence is shaped in far-reaching ways by the context of utterance. And they have argued that the ways in which the content of what is said is shaped by context cannot be explained by semantic theory. A striking number of the examples that radical contextualists use to support their view involve sentences containing color adjectives ("red", "green", etc.). In this paper, I show how the (...) most sophisticated analysis of color adjectives within the explanatory framework of compositional truth conditional semantics—recently developed by Kennedy and McNally (Synthese 174(1): 79-98 2010)—needs to be modified to handle the full range of contextual variation displayed by color adjectives. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy of language uses experimental methods developed in the cognitive sciences to investigate topics of interest to philosophers of language. This article describes the methodological background for the development of experimental approaches to topics in philosophy of language, distinguishes negative and positive projects in experimental philosophy of language, and evaluates experimental work on the reference of proper names and natural kind terms. The reliability of expert judgments vs. the judgments of ordinary speakers, the role that ambiguity plays in influencing (...) responses to experiments, and the reliability of metalinguistic judgments are also assessed. (shrink)
This ambitious book presents a new interpretation of Chinese thought guided both by a philosopher's sense of mystery and by a sound philosophical theory of meaning. That dual goal, Hansen argues, requires a unified translation theory. It must provide a single coherent account of the issues that motivated both the recently untangled Chinese linguistic analysis and the familiar moral-political disputes. Hansen's unified approach uncovers a philosophical sophistication in Daoism that traditional accounts have overlooked. The Daoist theory treats the (...) imperious intuitionism that alienates critical thinkers as a feature of Confucianism alone. Freed from the view that Confucianism is the core of Chinese thought and from myopic Confucian interpretations, Chinese thinkers emerge as unmistakably philosophical. (shrink)
In New Philosophy for New Media, Mark Hansen defines the image in digital art in terms that go beyond the merely visual. Arguing that the "digital image" encompasses the entire process by which information is made perceivable, he places the body in a privileged position -- as the agent that filters information in order to create images. By doing so, he counters prevailing notions of technological transcendence and argues for the indispensability of the human in the digital era.Hansen (...) examines new media art and theory in light of Henri Bergson's argument that affection and memory render perception impure -- that we select only those images precisely relevant to our singular form of embodiment. Hansen updates this argument for the digital age, arguing that we filter the information we receive to create images rather than simply receiving images as preexisting technical forms. This framing function yields what Hansen calls the "digital image." He argues that this new "embodied" status of the frame corresponds directly to the digital revolution: a digitized image is not a fixed representation of reality, but is defined by its complete flexibility and accessibility. It is not just that the interactivity of new media turns viewers into users; the image itself has become the body's process of perceiving it.To illustrate his account of how the body filters information in order to create images, Hansen focuses on new media artists who follow a "Bergsonist vocation"; through concrete engagement with the work of artists like Jeffrey Shaw, Douglas Gordon, and Bill Viola, Hansen explores the contemporary aesthetic investment in the affective, bodily basis of vision. The book includes over 70 illustrations from the works of these and many other new media artists. (shrink)
An important challenge to color objectivists, who hold that statements concerning color are made true or false by objective (non-subject-involving) facts, is the argument from interpersonal variation in where normal observers locate the unique hues. Recently, an attractive objectivist response to the argument has been proposed that draws on the semantics of gradable adjectives and which does not require defending the idea that there is a single correct location for each of the unique hues (Gómez-Torrente, 2016). In Hansen (2015), (...) I argued that the recent objectivist response doesn’t apply to comparative occurrences of color adjectives, so a revised, comparative, version of the argument from interpersonal variation remains a powerful objection to certain types of objectivism. In this paper, I address several unsatisfactory objectivist replies to the comparative version of the argument from interpersonal variation, and offer what I think is a more plausible objectivist reply to the comparative argument from interpersonal variation. (shrink)
During the years leading up to World War I, America experienced a crisis of civic identity. How could a country founded on liberal principles and composed of increasingly diverse cultures unite to safeguard individuals and promote social justice? In this book, Jonathan Hansen tells the story of a group of American intellectuals who believed the solution to this crisis lay in rethinking the meaning of liberalism. Intellectuals such as William James, John Dewey, Jane Addams, Eugene V. Debs, and W. (...) E. B. Du Bois repudiated liberalism's association with acquisitive individualism and laissez-faire economics, advocating a model of liberal citizenship whose virtues and commitments amount to what Hansen calls cosmopolitan patriotism. Rooted not in war but in dedication to social equity, cosmopolitan patriotism favored the fight against sexism, racism, and political corruption in the United States over battles against foreign foes. Its adherents held the domestic and foreign policy of the United States to its own democratic ideals and maintained that promoting democracy universally constituted the ultimate form of self-defense. Perhaps most important, the cosmopolitan patriots regarded critical engagement with one's country as the essence of patriotism, thereby justifying scrutiny of American militarism in wartime. (shrink)
In this writing, David Hansen illuminates the aesthetic, moral, and epistemic meaning of bearing witness to teaching and teachers by drawing upon a recently completed field-based endeavor that included extensive school visits. Hansen shows how bearing witness can bring the inquirer close to the truth of teaching. However, the witness must undertake ethical work to ready her- or himself for the task. Even such readiness, which must be continuously re-won on each occasion, guarantees nothing. The witness in the (...) classroom must work with faith, hope, and a deep sense of the worthwhileness of teaching. Hansen suggests that the witness's practice as well as testimony regarding the work can have a valuable influence on the consciousness, and conscience, of all who concern themselves with teaching and teachers. (shrink)
This book represents an ambitious attempt to remove the stumbling blocks that stand in the way of a dialogue between Chinese and world philosophy. Hansen's main goal is to present a unified theory of Classical Chinese thought. What makes his attempt very different from innumerable previous efforts is that he uses Daoism, not Confucianism, as the central and unifying principle.
Even as media in myriad forms increasingly saturate our lives, we nonetheless tend to describe our relationship to it in terms from the twentieth century: we are consumers of media, choosing to engage with it. In _Feed-Forward_, Mark B. N. Hansen shows just how outmoded that way of thinking is: media is no longer separate from us but has become an inescapable part of our very experience of the world. Engaging deeply with the speculative empiricism of philosopher Alfred North (...) Whitehead, Hansen reveals how new media call into play elements of sensibility that deeply affect human selfhood without in any way _belonging_ to the human. From social media to data-mining to new sensor technologies, media in the twenty-first century work largely outside the realm of perceptual consciousness, yet at the same time inflect our every sensation. Understanding that paradox, Hansen shows, offers us a chance to put forward a radically new vision of human becoming, one that enables us to reground the human in a non-anthropocentric view of the world and our experience in it. (shrink)
In Philosophical Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy, James Hansen proposes resolutions to four fundamental philosophical questions about knowing, effectiveness, and truth. Presented within the context of the author's struggle to reconcile these philosophical questions with his understanding of patient care, Hansen gives unity and meaning to diverse and seemingly contradictory counseling models.
Randolph Bourne was only thirty-two when he died in 1918, but he left a legacy of astonishingly mature and incisive writings on politics, literature, and culture, which were of enormous influence in shaping the American intellectual climate of the 1920s and 1930s. This definitive collection, back in print at last, includes such noted essays as "The War and the Intellectuals," "The Fragment of the State," "The Development of Public Opinion," and "John Dewey's Philosophy." Bourne's critique of militarism and advocacy of (...) cultural pluralism are enduring contributions to social and political thought, sure to have an equally strong impact in our own time. In their introduction and preface, Olaf Hansen and Christopher Lasch provide biographical and historical context for Bourne's work. (shrink)
Research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) has tended to focus on external stakeholders and outcomes, revealing little about internal effects that might also help explain CSR-firm performance linkages and the impact that corporate marketing strategies can have on internal stakeholders such as employees. The two studies ( N = 1,116 and N = 2,422) presented in this article draw on theory from both corporate marketing and organizational behavior (OB) disciplines to test the general proposition that employee trust partially mediates the (...) relationship between CSR and employee attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. Both studies provide evidence in support of these general relationships. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed in the context of CSR and corporate marketing research. (shrink)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one of the ways through which companies gain legitimacy. However, CSR actions themselves are subject to public skepticism because of increased public awareness of greenwashing and scandalous corporate behavior. Legitimacy of CSR actions is indeed influenced by the actions of the company but also is rooted in the basic cultural values of a society and in the ideologies of evaluators. This study examines the legitimacy of CSR actions of publicly traded forest products companies as compared (...) to family-owned forest products companies. Results indicate a lower legitimacy for CSR actions of publicly traded companies than for family-owned companies. The study also examines the effect of social responsibility orientation (SRO) of evaluators on the legitimacy accorded to companies' CSR actions. We found that SRO was negatively associated with legitimacy, especially for women. Perceived profitability of companies was negatively associated with legitimacy of CSR actions for publicly traded but not for family-owned companies. (shrink)
Although trustworthiness has been described as a source of competitive advantage, its value extends to organizational governance and wealth creation. We identify the importance of the commitment—compliance continuum in the decision to trust and note that trustworthiness is a subjective perception viewed through each person's mediating lens. That lens and each person's interpretation of the social contract impact one's commitment to cooperate. We suggest five propositions that integrate trustworthiness, governance, and wealth creation.
This paper concerns the central method of generating evidence in support of contextualist theories, what we call context shifting experiments. We begin by explaining the standard design of context shifting experiments, which are used in both quantitative surveys and more traditional thought experiments to show how context affects the content of natural language expressions. We discuss some recent experimental studies that have tried and failed to find evidence that confirms contextualist predictions about the results of context shifting experiments, and consider (...) the criticisms of those studies made by DeRose (forthcoming). We show that DeRose's criticisms are incomplete, and we argue that the design of context shifting experiments he proposes is itself subject to some of the same problems as the studies he criticizes. We propose a refined approach to the design of context shifting experiments that addresses these problems and which allows us to to investigate the effect of context on both positive and negative sentences. This aspect of our design allows us to control for several forms of bias, including a particular form of "truth bias" that favors positive over negative sentences. We then deploy our improved design in an experiment that tests a large number of scenarios involving different types of expressions of interest to contextualists, including "know" and color adjectives like "green". Our experiment (i) reveals an effect of changing contexts on the evaluation of uses of the sentences that we examined, thereby overturning the absence of results reported in previous experimental studies (so-called null results) and (ii) reveals previously unnoticed distinctions between the strength of the contextual effects we observed for scenarios involving knowledge ascriptions and for scenarios concerning color and other miscellaneous scenarios. (shrink)
This paper considers ways that experimental design can affect judgments about informally presented context shifting experiments. Reasons are given to think that judgments about informal context shifting experiments are affected by an exclusive reliance on binary truth value judgments and by experimenter bias. Exclusive reliance on binary truth value judgments may produce experimental artifacts by obscuring important differences of degree between the phenomena being investigated. Experimenter bias is an effect generated when, for example, experimenters disclose (even unconsciously) their own beliefs (...) about the outcome of an experiment. Eliminating experimenter bias from context shifting experiments makes it far less obvious what the “intuitive” responses to those experiments are. After it is shown how those different kinds of bias can affect judgments about informal context shifting experiments, those experiments are revised to control for those forms of bias. The upshot of these investigations is that participants in the contextualist debate who employ informal experiments should pay just as much attention to the design of their experiments as those who employ more formal experimental techniques if they want to avoid obscuring the phenomena they aim to uncover. (shrink)
In this study, we comprehensively examine the relationships between ethical leadership, social exchange, and employee commitment. We find that organizational and supervisory ethical leadership are positively related to employee commitment to the organization and supervisor, respectively. We also find that different types of social exchange relationships mediate these relationships. Our results suggest that the application of a multifoci social exchange perspective to the context of ethical leadership is indeed useful: As hypothesized, within-foci effects (e.g., the relationship between organizational ethical leadership (...) and commitment to the organization) are stronger than cross-foci effects (e.g., the relationship between supervisory ethical leadership and commitment to the organization). In addition, in contrast to the “trickle down” model of ethical leadership (Mayer et al. in Org Behav Hum Decis Process 108:1–13, 2009), our results suggest that organizational ethical leadership is both directly and indirectly related to employee outcomes. (shrink)
Next SectionIn response to public outrage stemming from exposés of animal abuse in research laboratories, the US Congress in 1985 mandated Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) to oversee animal use at institutions receiving federal grants. IACUCs were enjoined to respect public concern about the treatment of animals in research, but they were not specifically instructed whether or not to perform ethical cost-benefit analyses of animal research protocols that IACUCs have chosen, with approval contingent upon a balancing of animal (...) pain and suffering against a reasonable expectation of resultant human benefit. IACUCs have chosen not to make such ethical judgments but, rather, restrict themselves to an advisory role, often tweaking the details of animal-use protocols, but eventually approving all of them. This disinclination by IACUCs to take a broader ethical view of their authority and responsibilities may reflect a membership composition highly skewed towards animal researchers themselves (67%) and institutional veterinarians (15%), both with vested interests in continuing animal research. The resultant ethical monoculture may impair IACUC's ability to meet public concern for laboratory animal welfare. Psychological research has established that unconscious bias affects us all, that deliberations among the like-minded lead to adapting extremist positions, and that groupthink blinds organisations to alternatives that might be obvious to outsiders. Taken together, skewed IACUC membership composition and psychological research insights into unconscious bias and groupthink suggest that an infusion of ethical diversity by increasing the percentage of institutionally unaffiliated members on IACUCs would broaden their ethical perspectives and enable them to better address public concerns about laboratory animal welfare. (shrink)
This paper concerns the philosophical significance of a choice about how to design the context shifting experiments used by contextualists and anti-intellectualists: Should contexts be judged jointly, with contrast, or separately, without contrast? Findings in experimental psychology suggest (1) that certain contextual features are more difficult to evaluate when considered separately, and there are reasons to think that one feature--stakes or importance--that interests contextualists and anti-intellectualists is such a difficult to evaluate attribute, and (2) that joint evaluation of contexts can (...) yield judgments that are more reflective and rational in certain respects. With those two points in mind, a question is raised about what source of evidence provides better support for philosophical theories of how contextual features affect knowledge ascriptions and evidence: Should we prefer evidence consisting of "ordinary" judgments, or more reflective, perhaps more rational judgments? That question is answered in relation to different accounts of what such theories aim to explain, and it is concluded that evidence from contexts evaluated jointly should be an important source of evidence for contextualist and anti-intellectualist theories, a conclusion that is at odds with the methodology of some recent studies in experimental epistemology. (shrink)
Pluralistic ignorance is a socio-psychological phenomenon that involves a systematic discrepancy between people’s private beliefs and public behavior in certain social contexts. Recently, pluralistic ignorance has gained increased attention in formal and social epistemology. But to get clear on what precisely a formal and social epistemological account of pluralistic ignorance should look like, we need answers to at least the following two questions: What exactly is the phenomenon of pluralistic ignorance? And can the phenomenon arise among perfectly rational agents? In (...) this paper, we propose answers to both these questions. First, we characterize different versions of pluralistic ignorance and define the version that we claim most adequately captures the examples cited as paradigmatic cases of pluralistic ignorance in the literature. In doing so, we will stress certain key epistemic and social interactive aspects of the phenomenon. Second, given our characterization of pluralistic ignorance, we argue that the phenomenon can indeed arise in groups of perfectly rational agents. This, in turn, ensures that the tools of formal epistemology can be fully utilized to reason about pluralistic ignorance. (shrink)
Keith DeRose has argued that context shifting experiments should be designed in a specific way in order to accommodate what he calls a ‘truth/falsity asymmetry’. I explain and critique DeRose's reasons for proposing this modification to contextualist methodology, drawing on recent experimental studies of DeRose's bank cases as well as experimental findings about the verification of affirmative and negative statements. While DeRose's arguments for his particular modification to contextualist methodology fail, the lesson of his proposal is that there is good (...) reason to pay close attention to several subtle aspects of the design of context shifting experiments. (shrink)
Many researchers in the field of business ethics have attempted to develop methods to determine and evaluate the ethics of a variety of different classes of people, including students, professionals, and mixed samples of students and professionals. Unfortunately, most of these studies were disjunctive, simply adding confusion to an already unfocused area of research. However, Reidenbach and Robin (1988, 1990), have changed this trend by attempting to quantify the various ethical philosophies into a multi-dimensional scale of business ethics. This paper (...) examines the background of the Reidenbach and Robin (1988, 1990) scale — including the authors'' findings, empirically tests the scale, and concludes that the scale needs further refinement. A promising result is a model with four dimensions: a broadbased ethical judgment dimension, a deontological judgment dimension, a teleological judgment dimension, and a social contract dimension. (shrink)
To date, few Norwegian clinical ethics committees (CECs) have included patients or next of kin in case discussions. In 2008, Rikshospitalet's (The National Hospital's) CEC began to routinely invite patients and relatives into case discussions. In this paper, we describe seven cases discussed by this committee in 2008. Six involved life and death decision-making in collaboration with the next of kin, while one related case did not include relatives. In our opinion, representing the patient's perspective was advantageous to the discussion (...) itself, to the conclusion made and to the next of kin's acceptance of the resolution. We believe that if the patient had been represented in the last case, the outcome might have been different. We conclude that successful patient involvement will rely on well-structured case discussions, an open atmosphere and good preparation and follow-up. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that consumerautonomy does not count in favor of thelabeling of genetically modified foods (GMfoods) more than for the labeling of non-GMfoods. Further, reasonable considerationssupport the view that it is non-GM foods ratherthan GM foods that should be labeled.
Alice Crary has recently developed a radical reading of J. L. Austin's philosophy of language. The central contention of Crary's reading is that Austin gives convincing reasons to reject the idea that sentences have context-invariant literal meaning. While I am in sympathy with Crary about the continuing importance of Austin's work, and I think Crary's reading is deep and interesting, I do not think literal sentence meaning is one of Austin's targets, and the arguments that Crary attributes to Austin or (...) finds Austinian in spirit do not provide convincing reasons to reject literal sentence meaning. In this paper, I challenge Crary's reading of Austin and defend the idea of literal sentence meaning. (shrink)
We describe a strategy for integration of data that is based on the idea of semantic enhancement. The strategy promises a number of benefits: it can be applied incrementally; it creates minimal barriers to the incorporation of new data into the semantically enhanced system; it preserves the existing data (including any existing data-semantics) in their original form (thus all provenance information is retained, and no heavy preprocessing is required); and it embraces the full spectrum of data sources, types, models, and (...) modalities (including text, images, audio, and signals). The result of applying this strategy to a given body of data is an evolving Dataspace that allows the application of a variety of integration and analytic processes to diverse data contents. We conceive semantic enhancement (SE) as a lightweight and flexible process that leverages the richness of the structured contents of the Dataspace without adding storage and processing burdens to what, in the intelligence domain, will be an already storage- and processing-heavy starting point. SE works not by changing the data to which it is applied, but rather by adding an extra semantic layer to this data. We sketch how the semantic enhancement approach can be applied consistently and in cumulative fashion to new data and data-models that enter the Dataspace. (shrink)
It has become a truism that we live in so-called information societies where new information technologies have made information abundant. At the same time, information science has made us aware of many phenomena tied to the way we process information. This article explores a series of socio-epistemic information phenomena resulting from processes that track truth imperfectly: pluralistic ignorance, informational cascades, and belief polarization. It then couples these phenomena with the hypothesis that modern information technologies may lead to their amplification so (...) as to give rise to what are called “infostorms.” This points to the need for studying further the exact relations between information technologies and such infostorms, as well as the ways we may design technologies to avoid being misled away from what we have good reasons to believe. (shrink)
If stem cell-based therapies are developed, we will likely confront a difficult problem of justice: for biological reasons alone, the new therapies might benefit only a limited range of patients. In fact, they might benefit primarily white Americans, thereby exacerbating long-standing differences in health and health care.
In this article we explore the role evidence ought to play in complementary and alternative medicine. First, we consider the claim that evidence in the form of randomized controlled trials cannot be obtained for CAMs. Second, we consider various claims to the effect that there are ways of obtaining evidence that do not make use of RCTs. We argue that there is no good reason why CAM should be exempted from the general requirement that treatments undergo evaluation by RCT. Third, (...) we consider two implications for health care policy. First, many activities in conventional medicine have never been rigorously evaluated and are widely in use nonetheless. We argue that this fails to provide a reason for exempting CAM from a demand for evidence. Second, CAM use may be compared to a choice of lifestyle, and this has a significant impact on which requirements of evidence can reasonably be imposed. (shrink)
There is a widespread assumption that ordinary language philosophy was killed off sometime in the 1960s or 70s by a combination of Gricean pragmatics and the rapid development of systematic semantic theory. Contrary to that widespread assumption, however, contemporary versions of ordinary language philosophy are alive and flourishing but going by various aliases – in particular (some versions of) ‘contextualism’ and (some versions of) ‘experimental philosophy’. And a growing group of contemporary philosophers are explicitly embracing the title as well as (...) the methods of ordinary language philosophy and arguing that it has been unfairly maligned and was never decisively refuted. In this overview, I will outline the main projects and arguments employed by contemporary ordinary language philosophers and make the case that updated versions of the arguments made by ordinary language philosophers in the middle of the 20th century are attracting renewed attention. (shrink)
Subjective probabilities play a significant role in the assessment of evidence: in other words, our background knowledge, or pre-trial beliefs, cannot be set aside when new evidence is being evaluated. Focusing on homeopathy, this paper investigates the nature of pre-trial beliefs in clinical trials. It asks whether pre-trial beliefs of the sort normally held only by those who are sympathetic to homeopathy can legitimately be disregarded in those trials. The paper addresses several surprisingly unsuccessful attempts to provide a satisfactory justification (...) for ignoring the pre-trial beliefs of the homeopathic community. The ensuing diagnosis of the difficulties here emphasizes that the reason the arguments for choosing the pre-trial beliefs of the conventional community seem insufficient is not the arguments per se. It is rather that there is no cogent argument for choosing the conventional stance which would at the same time rationally persuade a member of the homeopathic community. The paper concludes that, once we understand that this is the predicament, there is no genuine reason to doubt the reasoning that leads us to reject the pre-trial beliefs of the homeopathic community. (shrink)
As the expansion of the Internet and the digital formatting of all kinds of creative works move us further into the information age, intellectual property issues have become paramount. Computer programs costing thousands of research dollars are now copied in an instant. People who would recoil at the thought of stealing cars, computers, or VCRs regularly steal software or copy their favorite music from a friend's CD. Since the Web has no national boundaries, these issues are international concerns. The contributors-philosophers, (...) legal theorists, and business scholars, among others-address questions such as: Can abstract ideas be owned? How does the violation of intellectual property rights compare to the violation of physical property rights? Can computer software and other digital information be protected? And how should legal systems accommodate the ownership of intellectual property in an information age? Intellectual Property is a lively examination of these and other issues, and an invaluable resource for librarians, lawyers, businesspeople, and scholars. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen argues that egalitarians should compensate for expensive tastes or for the fact that they are expensive. Ronald Dworkin, by contrast, regards most expensive tastes as unworthy of compensation — only if a person disidentifies with his own such tastes (i.e. wishes he did not have them) is compensation appropriate. Dworkinians appeal, inter alia, to the so-called ‘first-person’ or ‘continuity’ test. According to the continuity test, an appropriate standard of interpersonal comparison reflects people's own assessment of their relative (...) standing: Person A can only legitimately demand compensation from person B if he regards himself as worse off, all things considered, than B. The typical bearer of expensive tastes does not regard herself as being worse off than others with less expensive tastes. Hence, in the typical case, pace Cohen, compensation for expensive tastes is inappropriate. The article scrutinizes this rationale for not compensating for expensive tastes. Especially, we try to bolster the continuity test by relating it to Dworkin's distinction between integrated and detached values, pointing out that an argument for the continuity test can be built on the assumption that equality has integrated value. In brief, the point is that a metric of equality should be assessed, partly, in virtue of its consequences for related ideals. One of these is the kind of justificatory community promoted by the continuity test. We defend this view against an objection to the effect that equality is a detached value. We conclude that the continuity test constitutes a strong foothold for the resourcist egalitarian reluctance to compensate people for their expensive tastes. (shrink)
When a conflict of duties arises, a resolution is often sought by use of an ordering of priority or importance. This paper examines how such a conflict resolution works, compares mechanisms that have been proposed in the literature, and gives preference to one developed by Brewka and Nebel. I distinguish between two cases – that some conflicts may remain unresolved, and that a priority ordering can be determined that resolves all – and provide semantics and axiomatic systems for accordingly defined (...) dyadic deontic operators. (shrink)
The structure of ethics work in a hospital is complex. Professional ethics, research ethics and clinical ethics committees (CECs) are important parts of this structure, in addition to laws and national and institutional codes of ethics. In Norway all hospital trusts have a CEC, most of these discuss cases by means of a method which seeks to include relevant guidelines and laws into the discussion. In recent years many committees have received more cases which have concerned questions of principle. According (...) to Ellen Fox and co-authors the traditional CEC model suffers from a number of weaknesses. Therefore, in their organization a separate body deals with organizational matters. In this paper, we discuss what is gained and what is lost by creating two separate bodies doing ethics consultation. We do this through an analysis of detailed minutes of CEC discussions in one CEC during a 6-year period. 30 % of all referrals concerned matters of principle. Some of these discussions originated in a dilemma related to a particular patient. Most of the discussions had some consequences within the hospital organization, for clinical practice, for adjustment of guidelines, or may have influenced national policy. We conclude that a multiprofessional CEC with law and ethics competency and patient representation may be well suited also for discussion of general ethical principles. A CEC is a forum which can help bridge the gap between clinicians and management by increasing understanding for each others’ perspectives. (shrink)