of the Commons
Tragedy of Freedom in a Commons
. . . The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open
to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as
possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of
both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however,
comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social
stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, "What is the utility to me
of adding one
more animal to my herd?" This utility has one negative and one positive component.
|1. ||The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal.
Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly + 1.|
|2. ||The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are|