The Journal of Clinical Ethics




Clinical Ethicists: Consultants or Professionals?

William J. Winslade

The Journal of Clinical Ethics 25, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 36-40.



John H. Evansís views on the multiple roles of healthcare ethics consultants are based on his claim that bioethics is a "distinct profession" that has a "system of abstract knowledge." This response to Professor Evans disputes both of his claims. It is argued that clinical ethicists are consultants but not professionals. Their roles as consultants require more than one abstract form of knowledge (principlism). Instead, clinical ethicists rely upon a variety of ethical perspectives and other skills to help resolve conflicts and facilitate healthcare decisions and policy making, whether it is in clinical, research, policy, or organizational contexts. The credibility and effectiveness of clinical ethicists depend upon their knowledge of ethics, their practical experience, and personal abilities, not one form of abstract knowledge.


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