Rivising the Tragedy of the Commons

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  • Topic: Public good, Tragedy of the commons, Common-pool resource
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REVISITING THE
”TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS”

University Sciences Po Paris Semester: Fall 2011/2012 Student: Sönke-Timo Kisker Student – ID: 100033186 Course: Thinking and Acting the Environment Course-ID: 23811 Course Coordinaton: Florence Faucher-King; Thomas Léon Assignment: Mid-term paper Word-count: 2746 Date: 18.10.2011| Agenda

I. Introduction 2 II. Specifying a framework 2 a. Defining ‘global public good’ 2 b. Defining the “Tragedy,”within Game theory 3 III. Revisiting Hardin's main assumptions and argumentations 4 c. Variables influencing rational choices of Individuals 4 d. The concept value and ethics in decisionmaking 5 IV. Practical examples of dealing with the commons 6 e. Mc Evoy's findings of assigning responsibility 6 f. Co-Management 6 g. Ostrom contradicting the call to redefine property rights 7 V. Collective Action in the Ecological Crisis: How to make politics work 7 VI. Conclusion 7 VII. References 8

I. Introduction
In 1968, Garrett Hardin first introduced a new framework to specify situations in which consumption of goods increases short-term utility of individuals while creating a long-term dead-weight loss in total welfare at the same time. He defines these situation in the following way: “The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen (Hardin, 1968).” Hardin proposes enclosure of these commons, a redefinition of property rights. Either a person owns his own land or someone is given ownership to the whole to manage the resource and distribute usage against compensation. The tragedy of the commons is related mainly to the acquaintance of Global public goods, which leads to the question how these can be defined in context to the framework of ecological crisis in todays world. Since 1968, there is an increasing number of academic research about how to deal with the commons, some agreeing to Hardin, others deviating from his standpoint. The question arises whether the key-arguments and assumptions within Hardins “the tragedy of the commons” are correct and in what way Hardin's work restricts options when dealing with the ecological crisis.

In order to specify situations, in which the “tragedy of the commons” or alternative frameworks dealing with the commons can be applied, the paper first defines global public goods and introduces different kinds of commons. Secondly, Hardin's argumentation is summarized in a practical example via game theory. By revealing the primary motivations in decision-making as well as the final payoff-structure of individuals and society, Hardins assumption and hypothesis become much clearer. These arguments are then individually revisited and complemented by approaches taken from other research results. Finally, real-life examples will paint a picture about which approaches...
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