Tag Archives: population

Tragedy of the commons

The phrase “tragedy of the commons” is used generally in environmental writing to talk about the way some shared resource can be damaged when individuals – striving to maximize their personal gains in utility – use more than their socially optimal share of the resource.   The term was introduced though in a famous paper by Hardin


which refers specifically to population issues.  This is a disquieting article to read today, with its echoes of early 20th-century eugenicists’ fears of the “lower classes” outbreeding the elite, but it is also an important one in the history of environmental thought.