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The Tragedy of the “Tragedy of the Commons”: Why Coining Too Good a Phrase Can Be Dangerous

Author

Listed:
  • Robert Stephen Hawkshaw

    () (Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia, 1822 East Mall, Vancouver, V6T 1Z1, Canada)

  • Sarah Hawkshaw

    () (Fisheries Centre, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T, Canada)

  • U. Rashid Sumaila

    () (Fisheries Centre, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T, Canada)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Stephen Hawkshaw & Sarah Hawkshaw & U. Rashid Sumaila, 2012. "The Tragedy of the “Tragedy of the Commons”: Why Coining Too Good a Phrase Can Be Dangerous," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(11), pages 1-10, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:11:p:3141-3150:d:21503
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. U. Sumaila & Ahmed Khan & Andrew Dyck & Reg Watson & Gordon Munro & Peter Tydemers & Daniel Pauly, 2010. "A bottom-up re-estimation of global fisheries subsidies," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 201-225, October.
    2. Colin W. Clark & Gordon R. Munro & U. Rashid Sumaila, 2010. "Limits to the Privatization of Fishery Resources," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(2), pages 209-218.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tragedy of the commons; fisheries economics; individual transferable quotas;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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