Garrett Hardin: The Tragedy of the Commons. Each rational person seeks to maximize his or her gain. “Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”. Authors of article on nuclear war admit the problem does not have a ‘technical solution.’ What is a technical solution?
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Each rational person seeks to maximize his or her gain.
“Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”
Authors of article on nuclear war admit the problem does not have a ‘technical solution.’
Some might say the population is growing and so is not optimal, not ‘the greatest good for the greatest number.’ (Bentham)
Hardin denies this.
We do dispute what the good is for people. Some say goods are incommensurable (can’t be compared w/ one another).
Hardin: In nature, the criterion is survival.
Can we trust population to be regulated by an ‘invisible hand’? (Adam Smith)What shall we maximize?
What is tragedy. Whitehead “The essence of domestic tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things.” (p. 274)
A commons is a shared set of finite resources where a group people are free to draw on those resources. They are collectively owned.
Tragedy of the commons reappears in the problems of pollution. Cost of dumping waste cheaper than cost of purifying.
“The morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed.” (p. 276)
Those who are forward thinking have a conscience. They won’t overbreed. This trait is heritable. There will be more irresponsible people than responsible eventually.
We say we’ll shun the selfish. But we actually have contempt for the less selfish since they stand aside while the rest of us exploit the commmons.”Conscience
For Hardin, coercion is the solution. But he wants “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon.”
Hardin: We accept costs to our freedom when we recognize failure to accept those costs means “universal ruin.”