UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Tragedy of the “Tragedy of the Commons”: Why Coining Too Good a Phrase Can Be Dangerous Hawkshaw, Robert Stephen; Hawkshaw, Sarah; Sumaila, U. Rashid

Abstract

A deep reading of Hardin (1968) reveals that he had a lot more to say about the use and regulation of resources such as fisheries than he is given credit for in the literature. It appears that he is typically cited just so that authors can use the phrase “tragedy of the commons” to invoke the specter of looming catastrophe and then tie that to whatever solution they have proposed. We argue in this contribution that there is a lot more in Hardin’s essay that either contradicts or greatly complicates the arguments he is cited as an authority for.

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