Autumn.wmf (12088 bytes) Concepts of Biology (BIOL116) - Dr. S.G. Saupe; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321;;

The "Tragedy of the Commons"

    "Tragedy of the Commons" is the title of an essay written by Garrett Hardin in Science (Vol 162: 1243 - 1248). We will study this essay in class.  Consider the following questions:

  1. What does Hardin mean by a "technical solution" to a problem?  Can you give a few examples?
  2. What does Hardin mean by a dilemma with no technical solution? What examples does he cite?  Can you think of others?
  3. Do you agree that there some problems lack a technical solution?  Give an example.
  4. Why does Hardin think that technical solutions are always welcome. 
  5. What does Hardin mean that you can't maximize two variables simultaneously?  To what two variables is he referring in the case of population growth?  Is this true for other environmental concerns?
  6. Hardin argues that the earth's resources are finite.  Do you agree?  Explain.
  7. What is "good"?  How is "good" determined in nature?
  8. Will humans individual control their fecundity as suggested by Adam Smith?
  9. Do you agree with Adam Smith that decisions reached individually will necessarily be the best for an entire society?
  10. What does Hardin means by a "commons"?  Give some examples.
  11. What is the "tragedy".  Give some examples.
  12. Do you agree that "freedom in a common brings ruin to all"?
  13. How should we contend with the overuse of our national parks?
  14. What does Hardin mean that morality is "system sensitive".  Give an example.
  15. What does Hardin think about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states "...any choice and decision with regard to the size of the family must irrevocably rest with the family itself, and cannot be made by anyone else?"  What is your opinion?
  16. Hardin argues that controlling the breeding freedom of humans cannot be done by an appeal to conscious.  Do you agree?
  17. What does Hardin mean by "mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon?"
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Last updated: May 10, 2004        � Copyright by SG Saupe