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Firm-Specific Human Capital Investments and Hegelian Ethics: A Comment on Cornell and Posner, 11 Cardozo Law Review 505 (1990)


In a deeply interesting and provocative Article in these pages, Professor Drucilla Cornell attempts to bring together two strands of her own experience, one as a former labor organizer, the other as Hegelian scholar. But reconciliation does not prove easy. Initially, Professor Cornell makes an important observation about the nature of the employment relationship that deserves more attention from the legal community. Based on an elaborately reconstructed rendition of Hegelian thought, Professor Cornell moves from the observation that one's job is immensely important to one's sense of well-being and identity, to the rather strange policy implication that statutes should be passed that forbid employers to fire employees without "just cause." The statutory regime she advocates is extremely modest. It would not really change the common law rule of employment at will except to the extent that employers would be required to explain to workers their reasons for firing them.

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