Tragedy of the Commons. Hardin

I have a suggestion. If you use the phrase “Tragedy of the Commons,” and you’ve never read Garrett Hardin’s 6-page paper by that title (1968) — I suggest you do so now: https://www.hendrix.edu/uploadedFiles/Admission/GarrettHardinArticle.pdf

Roughly, the Tragedy of the Commons describes how rational individuals acting in their own self interests will deplete a shared resource at the expense of a collective’s interests. Hence a hurdle to collective action problems. Note and note well that I here neither aim to endorse nor dismiss (because I haven’t earnestly reckoned with objections) Hardin’s claims. Rather, I robustly endorse the view that wherever possible, and particularly when an article is so short and accessible, it is wise to consult the primary source before putting a popularized phrase to use. (On this note. If you’ve read Hardin’s paper, I challenge you to share it with others in your circle who mightn’t’ve but are also familiar with the phrase. Or not. Hardin’s paper is worth sharing in any event.)

In case you don’t know, though you’ll have probably guessed right, the commons originally referred to land held and managed by communities in common. The community pasture, a pasture where local farmers are free to allow their livestock to graze, is a classic example. The commons have since come to refer to other shared resources, such as fisheries and even culture.



Categories: Ponderings

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: