Hardin-tragedy

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Garrett Hardin: The Tragedy of the Commons

Garrett Hardin: The Tragedy of the Commons

Table of Contents
The Tragedy of the Commons..................................................................................................1 What Shall We Maximize?.............................................................................................2 Tragedy of Freedom in a Commons................................................................................4 Pollution..........................................................................................................................6 How To Legislate Temperance?.....................................................................................6 Freedom To Breed IsIntolerable....................................................................................7 Conscience Is Self−Eliminating......................................................................................8 Pathogenic Effects of Conscience...................................................................................9 Mutual Coercion Mutually Agreed Upon.....................................................................10 Recognition ofNecessity..............................................................................................12 References.....................................................................................................................13

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The Tragedy of the Commons
Science 162:1243−1248, December 13, 1968
The author is professor of biology, University of California, Santa Barbara. This articleis based on a presidential address presented before the meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Utah State University, Logan, 25 June 1968.

At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear war, Wiesner and York (1) concluded that: "Both sides in the arms race are... confronted by the dilemma of steadily increasing military powerand steadily decreasing national security. It is our considered professional judgment that this dilemma has no technical solution. If the great powers continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technology only, the result will be to worsen the situation." I would like to focus your attention not on the subject of the article (national security in a nuclear world) but on the kind ofconclusion they reached, namely that there is no technical solution to the problem. An implicit and almost universal assumption of discussions published in professional and semipopular scientific journals is that the problem under discussion has a technical solution. A technical solution may be defined as one that requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little ornothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality. In our day (though not in earlier times) technical solutions are always welcome. Because of previous failures in prophecy, it takes courage to assert that a desired technical solution is not possible. Wiesner and York exhibited this courage; publishing in a science journal, they insisted that the solution to the problem was not tobe found in the natural sciences. They cautiously qualified their statement with the phrase, "It is our considered professional judgment...." Whether they were right or not is not the concern of the present article. Rather, the concern here is with the important concept of a class of human problems which can be called "no technical solution problems," and, more specifically, with theidentification and discussion of one of these. It is easy to show that the class is not a null class. Recall the game of tick−tack−toe. Consider the problem, "How can I win the game of tick−tack−toe?" It is well known that I cannot, if I assume (in keeping with the conventions of game theory) that my opponent understands the game perfectly. Put another way, there is no "technical solution" to the problem. I...
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