Meeting the Call of Duty at the Dinner Table

Question: If you could have dinner with anybody, who would it be?

Elinor Ostrom: Well, I would like to have a dinner with John R. Commons, who was a very distinguished labor economist at the University of Wisconsin and whose work I've read multiple times and I still assign to my students. He was struggling with trying to understand how to enable labor to organize more effectively and wrote some of the initial legislation for labor law in Wisconsin and elsewhere. And he had a very interesting philosophy about rights having a counterpart to duties. And so if somebody has a right, somebody has to have a duty! And I would love to discuss with him some of those philosophical foundations.

Recorded on: October 25, 2009

If given the opportunity to sit down with anybody, Elinor Ostrom would meet the late labor economist John Commons, who linked the individual’s rights with their responsibilities.

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