by Garrett Hardin
"Synopsis: Hardin taught biology at UC Santa Barbara. Like many classics, this article is more often cited than read. The exposition of the commons problem isn’t new, but Hardin's approaches to solving the problem are insightful, if somewhat disturbing.
Hardin discusses a class of "problems with no technical solutions," focusing on over-population and other common-property resource depletion problems. He provides a clear reiteration of the Malthusian argument that a finite resource base necessarily implies a limit on human population, and then discusses some implications of this.
Hardin dismisses Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian goal of "the greatest good for the greatest number" as illogical and physically impossible. Principles of laissez-faire, articulated in Adam Smith's description of free markets in which self-serving individuals "are led by an invisible hand to promote…the public interest," won’t save us from the tragedy of the commons. "We need to examine our individual freedoms to see which ones are defensible."
Full synopsis is here:
Freely download “The Tragedy of the Commons”, by Garrett Hardin, here: