Abstract: The question of guiding principles has, by necessity, been more than rhetorical for the National Bankruptcy Review Commission. The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 outlined the duties of the Commission: 1. to investigate and study issues and problems relating to title 11, US Code, 2. to evaluate the advisability of proposals and current arrangements with respect to such issues and problems, 3. to prepare and submit to the Congress, the Chief Justice, and the President a report in accordance with section 608, and 4. to solicit divergent views of all parties concerned with the operation of the bankruptcy system. Clearly understood principles that transcended the bounds of pleasant generalization were needed to guide the actual process of making the recommendations Congress requested. The process that influenced the development of the Commission's approach to understanding and recommending changes in the consumer bankruptcy system is discussed. One of the fundamental premises that lies behind the reforms recommended by the Commission is also discussed.