Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Addressing Heteronomy and Autonomy in the Business Law Curriculum

The USA Today delivered to my hotel room on November 20 had a special Money section devoted to the topic of small business. The cover story is about Aaron Wolfson, who took five years to open The Savvy Gourmet, a cooking school, catering house, and kitchenware store in New Orleans, just in time to see it washed away by Hurricane Katrina. And yet he came back with "a newHack business plan to suit the needs of a largely abandoned city." (For more on the subject of urban entrepreneurship in New Orleans, visit Idea Village's website. Or buy a CD from street artist and jazz musician, Hack Bartholomew, right, after sipping your cafe au lait and nibbling on your beignet at the Cafe du Monde.)

My students would accuse me here of being "emo," but I can't help but wax philosophic about it. If heteronomy is the philosophical term for the world of physical cause-and-effect, of the inexorable tide of economic, demographic, and social forces, then autonomy, at least in small business, is the spirit of the entrepreneur, who decides, as a autonomous agent, to intervene, as a matter of free will, in the face of those forces.

Over at Legal Profession Blog, I make the argument that neither the profession nor the academy has yet figured out how lawyers best assist this unusual creature. Indeed, like Jim Chen (left, or is that Gil Grantmore?) in an earlier post, I am a trumpeter of Schumpeter.


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