Chapter 2: The Commons: From Tragedy to Triumph

The chapter starts by outlining Garret Hardin’s tragedy of the commons argument.  In short, my understanding of the argument is that due to the inherent selfishness of individuals the commons are doomed to overuse — unless they are turned into private property, or turned over to the state, and unless the users of a resource are regulated through coercion. Hardin’s paper is more generally about population limits and his views appear quite bluntly Malthusian.

Having seen functioning commons, Ostrom disagreed with Hardin’s analysis.  She studied commons that worked (and also those that didn’t), and captured her analysis of what made a commons sustainable in her work “Governing the Commons.”

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