The Tragedy of the Commons

by Garrett Hardin, 1968
Published in Science, December 13, 1968 For copyright permission, click here. The uthor is pro!essor o! biology, "ni#ersity o! $ li!orni , S nt % rb r . This rticle is b sed on presidenti l ddress presented be!ore the meeting o! the P ci!ic Di#ision o! the &meric n &ssoci tion !or the &d# ncement o! Science t "t h St te "ni#ersity, 'og n, () *une 1968. At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear war, Wiesner and York (1) concluded that: "Both sides in the arms race are ... confronted b the dilemma of steadil increasing militar !ower and steadil decreasing national securit . +t is our considered pro!ession l ,udgment th t this dilemm h s no technic l solution. "f the great !owers continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technolog onl , the result will be to worsen the situation." " would like to focus our attention not on the sub#ect of the article (national securit in a nuclear world) but on the kind of conclusion the reached, namel that there is no technical solution to the !roblem. An im!licit and almost uni$ersal assum!tion of discussions !ublished in !rofessional and semi!o!ular scientific #ournals is that the !roblem under discussion has a technical solution. A technical solution ma be defined as one that re%uires a change onl in the techni%ues of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the wa of change in human $alues or ideas of moralit . "n our da (though not in earlier times) technical solutions are alwa s welcome. Because of !re$ious failures in !ro!hec , it takes courage to assert that a desired technical solution is not !ossible. Wiesner and York e&hibited this courage' !ublishing in a science #ournal, the insisted that the solution to the !roblem was not to be found in the natural sciences. (he cautiousl %ualified their statement with the !hrase, ""t is our considered !rofessional #udgment. . . ." Whether the were right or not is not the concern of the !resent article. )ather, the concern here is with the im!ortant conce!t of a class of human !roblems which can be called "no technical solution !roblems," and, more s!ecificall , with the identification and discussion of one of these. "t is eas to show that the class is not a null class. )ecall the game of tick*tack*toe. +onsider the !roblem, ",ow can " win the game of tick* tack*toe-" "t is well known that " cannot, if " assume (in kee!ing with the con$entions of game theor ) that m o!!onent understands the game !erfectl . .ut another wa , there is no "technical solution" to the !roblem. " can win onl b gi$ing a radical meaning to the word "win." " can hit m o!!onent o$er the head' or " can drug him' or " can falsif the records. /$er wa in which " "win" in$ol$es, in some sense, an abandonment of the game, as we intuiti$el understand it. (" can also, of course, o!enl abandon the game**refuse to !la it. (his is what most adults do.) (he class of "0o technical solution !roblems" has members. 1 thesis is that the "!o!ulation !roblem," as con$entionall concei$ed, is a member of this class. ,ow it is con$entionall concei$ed needs some comment. "t is fair to sa that most !eo!le who anguish o$er the !o!ulation !roblem are tr ing to find a wa to a$oid the e$ils of

(o li$e. maintenance of life re%uires about 1. Work calories are used not onl for what we call work in common s!eech' the are also re%uired for all forms of en#o ment. An thing that he does o$er and abo$e merel sta ing ali$e will be defined as work. )eaching an acce!table and stable solution will surel re%uire more than one generation of hard anal tical work**and much !ersuasion. A finite world can su!!ort onl a finite !o!ulation' therefore. (he arithmetic signs in the anal sis are. in terms of the !ractical !roblems that we must face in the ne&t few generations with the foreseeable technolog . . no $acations.<< kilocalories a da ("maintenance calories"). "f our goal is to ma&imi5e !o!ulation it is ob$ious what we must do: We must make the work calories !er !erson a!!roach as close to 5ero as !ossible. "n a finite world this means that the !er ca!ita share of the world2s goods must steadil decrease. . (his was clearl stated b $on 0eumann and 1orgenstern (6). an more than can the !roblem of winning the game of tick*tack*toe. as 1althus said. as we would now sa . dating back at least to 72Alembert (1818*1896). that ma&imi5ing !o!ulation does not ma&imi5e goods.) When this condition is met. Bentham2s goal is im!ossible. no s!orts. " think that e$er one will grant. each sufficient b itself. less than the ma&imum. "3!ace" is no esca!e (4). "n reaching this conclusion " ha$e made the usual assum!tion that it is the ac%uisition of energ that is the !roblem. as =.3!ecificall . assume that the world a$ailable to the terrestrial human !o!ulation is finite.o$er!o!ulation without relin%uishing an of the !ri$ileges the now en#o . ((he case of !er!etual wide fluctuations abo$e and below 5ero is a tri$ial $ariant that need not be discussed. "s ours a finite worldA fair defense can be !ut forward for the $iew that the world is infinite' or that we do not know that it is not. .. gi$en an infinite source of energ . it is clear that we will greatl increase human miser if we do not. "t is not mathematicall !ossible to ma&imi5e for two (or more) $ariables at the same time. :remlin has so wittil shown (>). What Shall We Maximize . " tr to show here that the solution the seek cannot be found. (he !o!ulation !roblem cannot be sol$ed in a technical wa .owe$er. (he first is a theoretical one. without argument or !roof. !o!ulation growth still !roduces an inesca!able !roblem. e&!onentiall . can Bentham2s goal of "the greatest good for the greatest number" be reali5ed0o**for two reasons. !o!ulation growth must e$entuall e%ual 5ero..o!ulation. no literature. no music. from swimming and automobile racing to !la ing music and writing !oetr . (he o!timum !o!ulation is. naturall tends to grow "geometricall . (he !roblem of the ac%uisition of energ is re!laced b the !roblem of its dissi!ation. :or man. during the immediate future." or. no art . (he think that farming the seas or de$elo!ing new strains of wheat will sol$e the !roblem**technologicall . but the !rinci!le is im!licit in the theor of !artial differential e%uations. re$ersed' but Bentham2s goal is still unobtainable. But.. (he difficult of defining the o!timum is enormous' so far as " know. then. (his energ is utili5ed for two !ur!oses: mere maintenance and work. and is su!!orted b "work calories" which he takes in. what will be the situation of mankind. food). no one has seriousl tackled this !roblem. (he second reason s!rings directl from biological facts. an organism must ha$e a source of energ (for e&am!le. 0o gourmet meals. (he a!!earance of atomic energ has led some to %uestion this assum!tion. as it were.

(he !roblem for the ears ahead is to work out an acce!table theor of weighting. Adam 3mith did not assert that this was in$ariabl true. using the word "traged " as the !hiloso!her Whitehead used it (8): "(he essence of dramatic traged is not unha!!iness.The -e lth o! . +om!aring one good with another is. "led b an in$isible hand to !romote . (he com!romise achie$ed de!ends on a natural weighting of the $alues of the $ariables. (here is no doubt that in fact he alread does.(o one !erson it is wilderness. im!ossible because goods are incommensurable. as it were. or large and ! an cultural grou! sol$ed this !ractical !roblem at the !resent time. namel . . to another it is ski lodges for thousands. "f it is correct we can assume that men will control their indi$idual fecundit so as to !roduce the o!timum !o!ulation. But he contributed to a dominant tendenc of thought that has e$er since interfered with !ositi$e action based on rational anal sis." the idea that an indi$idual who "intends onl his own gain. "f the assum!tion is not correct. in fact. the most ra!idl growing !o!ulations on earth toda are (in general) the most miserable. Tragedy of !reedom in a Commons (he rebuttal to the in$isible hand in !o!ulation control is to be found in a scenario first sketched in a little*known !am!hlet (.) in 1966 b a mathematical amateur named William :orster Alo d (18B>*19@4). "t resides in the solemnit of the remorseless working of things. b an reasonable standards.. tions (188. e$en on an intuiti$e le$el. "(his ine$itableness of destin can onl be illustrated in terms of . and has had for some time. and !erha!s neither did an of his followers.0atural selection commensurates the incommensurables. the !ublic interest" (@).e then goes on to sa . We can make little !rogress in working toward o!timum !o!ulation si5e until we e&!licitl e&orci5e the s!irit of Adam 3mith in the field of !ractical demogra!h . nonlinear $ariation. (his association (which need not be in$ariable) casts doubt on the o!timistic assum!tion that the !ositi$e growth rate of a !o!ulation is e$idence that it has et to reach its o!timum. the tendenc to assume that decisions reached indi$iduall will. .. be the best decisions for an entire societ . "t is when the hidden decisions are made e&!licit that the arguments begin. but not (in !rinci!le) insoluble. "f this assum!tion is correct it #ustifies the continuance of our !resent !olic of laisse5*faire in re!roduction.) !o!ulari5ed the "in$isible hand." .?ne sim!le fact !ro$es that none has: there is no !ros!erous !o!ulation in the world toda that has. ?f course. "s it better for a s!ecies to be small and hideable. and difficulties in discounting the future make the intellectual !roblem difficult. We ma well call it "the traged of the commons". we usuall sa . (heoreticall this ma be true' but in real life incommensurables are commensurable. we need to ree&amine our indi$idual freedoms to see which ones are defensible. (o one it is estuaries to nourish ducks for hunters to shoot' to another it is factor land. "n economic affairs. "ncommensurables cannot be com!ared. 1an must imitate this !rocess. after which its growth rate becomes and remains 5ero. ?nl a criterion of #udgment and a s stem of weighting are needed.We want the ma&imum good !er !erson' but what is good. but unconsciousl . a !ositi$e growth rate might be taken as e$idence that a !o!ulation is below its o!timum. "n nature the criterion is sur$i$al. An !eo!le that has intuiti$el identified its o!timum !oint will soon reach it. 3 nergistic effects. a growth rate of 5ero." is.owe$er.

the logic of commons has been understood for a long time. suffers. howe$er. each herdsman seeks to ma&imi5e his gain. each !ursuing his own best interest in a societ that belie$es in the freedom of the commons. Adding together the com!onent !artial utilities. howe$er.) "n an a!!ro&imate wa . 1assachusetts. But it is understood mostl onl in s!ecial cases which are not sufficientl generali5ed. . more or less consciousl . shows how !erishable the knowledge is. 3ince.. but natural selection fa$ors the forces of !s chological denial (9). he asks.. the effects of o$ergra5ing are shared b all the herdsmen." (he traged of the commons de$elo!s in this wa . :ree !arking courtes of the ma or and cit council. :inall . (+ nicall . comes the da of reckoning. the rational herdsman concludes that the onl sensible course for him to !ursue is to add another animal to his herd. "t is to be e&!ected that each herdsman will tr to kee! as man cattle as !ossible on the commons. 3ome would sa that this is a !latitude. 1) (he !ositi$e com!onent is a function of the increment of one animal. :reedom in a commons brings ruin to all. At this !oint. /$en at this late date.icture a !asture o!en to all. the negati$e utilit for an !articular decision*making herdsman is onl a fraction of *1. of which he is a !art. 3ince the herdsman recei$es all the !roceeds from the sale of the additional animal. the !ositi$e utilit is nearl C1. (herein is the traged . it was learned thousands of ears ago. !erha!s since the disco$er of agriculture or the in$ention of !ri$ate !ro!ert in real estate. /&!licitl or im!licitl .. but the ine&orable succession of generations re%uires that the basis for this knowledge be constantl refreshed. A sim!le incident that occurred a few ears ago in Aeominster. /ach man is locked into a s stem that com!els him to increase his herd without limit**in a world that is limited. 4) (he negati$e com!onent is a function of the additional o$ergra5ing created b one more animal. that is. the inherent logic of the commons remorselessl generates traged . cattlemen leasing national land on the western ranges demonstrate no more than . 7uring the +hristmas sho!!ing season the !arking meters downtown were co$ered with red !lastic bags that bore tags reading: "7o not o!en until after +hristmas. :or it is onl b them that the futilit of esca!e can be made e$ident in the drama. 3uch an arrangement ma work reasonabl satisfactoril for centuries because tribal wars. But this is the conclusion reached b each and e$er rational herdsman sharing a commons. we sus!ect that the gained more $otes than the lost b this retrogressi$e act. As a rational being. And another' and another.human life b incidents which in fact in$ol$e unha!!iness." "n other words. (he indi$idual benefits as an indi$idual from his abilit to den the truth e$en though societ as a whole. )uin is the destination toward which all men rush. Would that it wereD "n a sense. !oaching. "What is the utilit to me of adding one more animal to m herd-" (his utilit has one negati$e and one !ositi$e com!onent. /ducation can counteract the natural tendenc to do the wrong thing. facing the !ros!ect of an increased demand for alread scarce s!ace. the cit fathers reinstituted the s stem of the commons. the da when the long*desired goal of social stabilit becomes a realit . and disease kee! the numbers of both man and beast well below the carr ing ca!acit of the land.

radioacti$e. 3ince this is true for e$er one. and so the traged of the commons as a cess!ool must be !re$ented b different means. b coerci$e laws or ta&ing de$ices that make it chea!er for the !olluter to treat his !ollutants than to discharge them untreated. rational. re%uires elaborate stitching and fitting to ada!t it to this newl !ercei$ed as!ect of the commons. "t might be on the basis merit. and the m th was near enough to the truth when he was a bo . "t did not much matter how a lonel American frontiersman dis!osed of his waste. (he calculations of utilit are much the same as before. administered to long %ueues." m grandfather used to sa . the oceans of the world continue to suffer from the sur$i$al of the !hiloso!h of the commons. (he traged of the commons as a food basket is a$erted b !ri$ate !ro!ert . (he !arks themsel$es are limited in e&tent**there is onl one Yosemite Ealle **whereas !o!ulation seems to grow without limit. free* enter!rises. (he owner of a factor on the bank of a stream**whose !ro!ert e&tends to the middle of the stream. " think. "oll#tion "n a re$erse wa . ":lowing water !urifies itself e$er 1< miles. but allocate the right enter them.lainl .rofessing to belie$e in "the ine&haustible resources of the oceans. and heat wastes into water' no&ious and dangerous fumes into the air. "ndeed. But we must choose**or ac%uiesce in the destruction of the commons that we call our 0ational .arks." the bring s!ecies after s!ecies of fish and whales closer to e&tinction (B). .arks !resent another instance of the working out of the traged of the commons. But the air and waters surrounding us cannot readil be ambi$alent understanding. as defined b some agreed*u!on standards. b the use of an auction s stem." . We ha$e not !rogressed as far with the solution of this !roblem as we ha$e with the first. (he rational man finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he discharges into the commons is less than the cost of !urif ing his wastes before releasing them. (he 0ational . we must soon cease to treat the !arks as commons or the will be of no $alue an one. (hese. "t might be b lotter .ere it is not a %uestion of taking something out of the commons. the traged of the commons rea!!ears in !roblems of !ollution. (he law. in constantl !ressuring federal authorities to increase the head count to the !oint where o$ergra5ing !roduces erosion and weed*dominance. fa$ors !ollution. or something formall like it. the natural chemical and biological rec cling !rocesses became o$erloaded. are all the reasonable !ossibilities.We ha$e se$eral o!tions. . Aikewise. (he are all ob#ectionable. and distracting and un!leasant ad$ertising signs into the line of sight. for there were not too man !eo!le. the are o!en to all. but of !utting something in** sewage." so long as we beha$e onl as inde!endent. We might kee! them as !ublic !ro!ert . without limit. first*ser$ed basis. What shall we do. (he allocation might be on the basis of wealth. But as !o!ulation became denser. alwa s behind the times. 1aritime nations still res!ond automaticall to the shibboleth of the "freedom of the seas. often has difficult seeing wh it is not his natural right to mudd the waters flowing !ast his door. At !resent. calling for a redefinition of !ro!ert rights. we are locked into a s stem of "fouling our own nest. ?r it might be on a first* come. (he !ollution !roblem is a conse%uence of !o!ulation. or chemical. (he $alues that $isitors seek the !arks are steadil eroded. We might sell them off as !ri$ate !ro!ert . . our !articular conce!t of !ri$ate !ro!ert . which deters us from e&hausting the !ositi$e resources of the earth.

(he great challenge facing us now is to in$ent the correcti$e feedbacks that are needed to kee! custodians honest. not laws. because the would be unable to care ade%uatel for their children. and therefore are !oorl suited to go$erning a com!le&. !reedom To (reed )s )ntolerable (he traged of the commons is in$ol$ed in !o!ulation !roblems in another wa . ?ne does not know whether a man killing an ele!hant or setting fire to the grassland is harming others until one knows the total s stem in which his act a!!ears. b law we delegate the details to bureaus." said an ancient +hinese' but it ma take 1<. (hat moralit is s stem*sensiti$e esca!ed the attention of most codifiers of ethics in the !ast. namel : the mor lity o! n ct is !unction o! the st te o! the system t the time it is per!ormed (1<). with onl a few thousand bison left. ?ur e!ic clic solution is to augment statutor law with administrati$e law. because there is no !ublic. . We must find wa s to legitimate the needed authorit of both the custodians and the correcti$e feedbacks. we would be a!!alled at such beha$ior. . !roducing a go$ernment b men."Who shall watch the watchers themsel$es-" =ohn Adams said that we must ha$e a go$ernment of laws and not men.rohibition is eas to legislate (though not necessaril to enforce)' but how do we legislate tem!erance. (he laws of our societ follow the !attern of ancient ethics. are singularl liable to corru!tion. cut out onl the tongue for his dinner. "?ne !icture is worth a thousand words. A hundred and fift ears ago a !lainsman could kill an American bison. Fsing the commons as a cess!ool does not harm the general !ublic under frontier conditions.<<< words to $alidate it. not more. "n !assing. . "(hou shalt not .Ho$ To %egislate Tem&eran'e Anal sis of the !ollution !roblem as a function of !o!ulation densit unco$ers a not generall recogni5ed !rinci!le of moralit ." Bureau administrators.arents who bred too e&uberantl would lea$e fewer descendants. the same beha$ior in a metro!olis is unbearable. . "n a world go$erned solel b the !rinci!le of "dog eat dog"**if indeed there e$er was such a world** how man children a famil had would not be a matter of !ublic concern. (he result is administrati$e law. But men are not birds. (oda . We limit !ossibilities unnecessaril if we su!!ose that the sentiment of /uis custodiet denies us the use of administrati$e law. and ha$e not acted like them for millenniums. it is worth noting that the moralit of an act cannot be determined from a !hotogra!h. . 7a$id Aack and others ha$e found that such a negati$e feedback demonstrabl controls the fecundit of birds (11).e was not in an im!ortant sense being wasteful. at least. and discard the rest of the animal. We should rather retain the !hrase as a !er!etual reminder of fearful dangers we cannot a$oid./&!erience indicates that it can be accom!lished best through the mediation of administrati$e law. "t is as tem!ting to ecologists as it is to reformers in general to tr to !ersuade others b wa of the !hotogra!hic shortcut." is the form of traditional ethical directi$es which make no allowance for !articular circumstances. 3ince it is !racticall im!ossible to s!ell out all the conditions under which it is safe to burn trash in the back ard or to run an automobile without smog*control. tr ing to e$aluate the moralit of acts in the total s stem. which is rightl feared for an ancient reason** /uis custodiet ipsos custodes. But the essence of an argument cannot be !hotogra!hed: it must be !resented rationall **in words. changeable world. crowded. .

e$en though it is !romoted b the Fnited 0ations. but if it should do so.uman )ights describes the famil as the natural and fundamental unit of societ .8. . and cannot be made b an one else. or the class (or indeed an distinguishable and cohesi$e grou!) that ado!ts o$erbreeding as a !olic to secure its own aggrandi5ement (16). and hence is confronted with another as!ect of the traged of the commons. nature would ha$e taken her re$enge. the religion. to use A. thus. generation b generation. (he argument assumes that conscience or the desire for children (no matter which) is hereditar **but hereditar onl in the most general formal sense. some !eo!le will undoubtedl res!ond to the !lea more than others. who denied the realit of witches in the 18th centur . in liberal %uarters. some 6< nations agreed to the following (1>): (he Fni$ersal 7eclaration of . how shall we deal with the famil . "n +. .(o cou!le the conce!t of freedom to breed with the belief that e$er one born has an e%ual right to the commons is to lock the world into a tragic course of action. "t follows that an choice and decision with regard to the si5e of the famil must irre$ocabl rest with the famil itself. +harles Halton 7arwin made this !oint when he s!oke on the centennial of the !ublication of his grandfather2s great book.uman )ights. +onfronted with a!!eals to limit breeding." "f we lo$e the truth we must o!enl den the $alidit of the Fni$ersal 7eclaration of . one feels as uncomfortable as a resident of 3alem. 7arwin2s words: ""t ma well be that it would take hundreds of generations for the !rogeniti$e instinct to de$elo! in this wa . H. or e&osomaticall ."f each human famil were de!endent onl on its own resources' if the children of im!ro$ident !arents star$ed to death' i!. "t is !ainful to ha$e to den categoricall the $alidit of this right' den ing it. Cons'ien'e )s Self*+liminating "t is a mistake to think that we can control the breeding of mankind in the long run b an a!!eal to conscience. (he argument is straightforward and 7arwinian. But our societ is dee!l committed to the welfare state (14).22 that we shouldn2t find fault with it' we shouldn2t !la into the hands of the archconser$ati$es. let us not forget what )obert Aouis 3te$enson said: "(he truth that is su!!ressed b friends is the readiest wea!on of the enem . the race. At the !resent time.owe$er. "n late 1B. (he difference will be accentuated. Fnfortunatel this is #ust the course of action that is being !ursued b the Fnited 0ations. (here is a feeling that the Fnited 0ations is "our last and best ho!e.arenthood*World . o$erbreeding brought its own "!unishment" to the germ line**then there would be no !ublic interest in controlling the breeding of families. "n a welfare state. =. .).o!ulation to see the error of its wa s in embracing the same tragic ideal.eo!le $ar . 1assachusetts. (hose who ha$e more children will !roduce a larger fraction of the ne&t generation than those with more susce!tible consciences. We should also #oin with Gingsle 7a$is (1@) in attem!ting to get !lanned . something like a taboo acts to inhibit criticism of the Fnited 0ations. (he result will be the same whether the attitude is transmitted through germ*cells. and the $ariet 0omo contr cipiens would become e&tinct and would be re!laced b the $ariet 0omo progeniti#us" (1.

!erha!s e$en an indis!ensable. he senses that he has recei$ed two communications. ?ne does not ha$e to be a !rofessional !s chiatrist to see the conse%uences of an&iet . from certain !oints of $iew. "is a kind of illness. (he larger %uestion we should ask is whether. :or centuries it was assumed without !roof that guilt was a $aluable. neither intelligence. !olic ." /$er man then is caught in what Bateson has called a "double bind. but to their an&ieties" (19). but it a!!lies e%uall well to an instance in which societ a!!eals to an indi$idual e&!loiting a commons to restrain himself for the general good**b means of his conscience. (he guilt do not !a attention to the ob#ect but onl to themsel$es. nor com!assion. as a matter of !olic . (o make such an a!!eal is to set u! a selecti$e s stem that works toward the elimination of conscience from the race. which might make sense. be desirable. but it alwa s endangers the mental health of an one to whom it is a!!lied. (he double bind ma not alwa s be so damaging." said 0iet5sche. we will secretl condemn ou for a sim!leton who can be shamed into standing aside while the rest of us e&!loit the commons.resident during the !ast generation failed to call on labor unions to moderate $oluntaril their demands for higher wages. consciousl or subconsciousl . or to steel com!anies to honor $oluntar guidelines on !rices.aul Hoodman s!eaks from the modern !oint of $iew when he sa s: "0o good has e$er come from feeling guilt .What does he hear-**not onl at the moment but also in the wee small hours of the night when. ingredient of the ci$ili5ed life. and that the are contradictor : (i) (intended communication) ""f ou don2t do as we ask." what are we sa ing to him. then what2s the !oint of education-) (he argument has here been stated in the conte&t of the !o!ulation !roblem." (o con#ure u! a conscience in others is tem!ting to an one who wishes to e&tend his control be ond the legal limits. "f we ask a man who is e&!loiting a commons to desist "in the name of conscience. we should e$er encourage the use of a techni%ue the tendenc (if not the .3ooner or later. we ma e$en concede that the results of an&iet ma sometimes. (he rhetoric used on such occasions is designed to !roduce feelings of guilt in noncoo!erators. Ale& +omfort has told the stor well in The &n1iety 2 kers (1B)' it is not a !rett one." can recall none. we doubt it. We in the Western world are #ust emerging from a dreadful two*centuries*long 7ark Ages of /ros that was sustained !artl b !rohibition an .Aotka2s term. half aslee!. Aeaders at the highest le$el succumb to this tem!tation. . he remembers not merel the words we used but also the non$erbal communication cues we ga$e him unawares. "athogeni' +ffe'ts of Cons'ien'e (he long*term disad$antage of an a!!eal to conscience should be enough to condemn it' but has serious short*term disad$antages as well. but !erha!s more effecti$el b the an&iet *generating mechanisms of education. ("f one denies the latter !ossibilit as well as the former. in this !ost*:reudian world. 3ince !roof is difficult. we will o!enl condemn ou for not acting like a res!onsible citi5en"' (ii) (the unintended communication) ""f ou do beha$e as we ask." Bateson and his co* workers ha$e made a !lausible case for $iewing the double bind as an im!ortant causati$e factor in the genesis of schi5o!hrenia (18). and not e$en to their own interests. . "A bad conscience. 0ow.

mutuall agreed u!on b the ma#orit of the !eo!le affected. "t seems to me that."s it not merel a s non m for the word conscience." without !ro$iding for e&ce!tions. (he onl kind of coercion " recommend is mutual coercion. but it need not fore$er be so.greed -&on (he social arrangements that !roduce res!onsibilit are arrangements that create coercion. (he moralit of bank*robbing is !articularl eas to understand because we acce!t com!lete !rohibition of this acti$it ." sa s this !hiloso!her. But what is the meaning of the word res!onsibilit in this conte&t. )ather than rel on !ro!aganda we follow :rankel2s lead and insist that a bank is not a commons' we seek the definite social arrangements that will kee! it from becoming a commons. (o kee! downtown sho!!ers tem!erate in their use of !arking s!ace we introduce !arking meters for short !eriods. But we acce!t com!ulsor ta&es because we recogni5e that $oluntar ta&es would fa$or the conscienceless. "t is an attem!t to get something for nothing.When we use the word res!onsibilit in the absence of substantial sanctions are we not tr ing to browbeat a free man in a commons into acting against his own interest)es!onsibilit is a $erbal counterfeit for a substantial 3uid pro 3uo. the alternati$e we ha$e chosen is the institution of !ri$ate !ro!ert cou!led with legal inheritance. But tem!erance also can be created b coercion.intention) of which is !s chologicall !athogenic. (hat we thereb infringe on the freedom of would*be robbers we neither den nor regret. (he man who takes mone from a bank acts as if the bank were a commons. 3ome !eo!le ha$e !ro!osed massi$e !ro!aganda cam!aigns to instill res!onsibilit into the nation2s (or the world2s) breeders. Who en#o s ta&es. An alternati$e to the commons need not be !erfectl #ust to be !referable. M#t#al Coer'ion M#t#ally . (o sa that we mutuall agree to coercion is not to sa that we are re%uired to en#o it. " suggest that it be in the sense +harles :rankel uses it (4<). of some sort. A 1adison A$enue man might call this !ersuasion' " !refer the greater candor of the word coercion." 0otice that :rankel calls for social arrangements**not !ro!aganda. "s this s stem !erfectl #ust. and traffic fines for longer ones. its dirtiness can be cleansed awa b e&!osure to the light. +oercion is a dirt word to most liberals now. We hear much talk these da s of res!onsible !arenthood' the cou!led words are incor!orated into the titles of some organi5ations de$oted to birth control. legal !ossession should be !erfectl correlated with biological . With real estate and other material goods.We all grumble about them. . As with the four*letter words. We need not actuall forbid a citi5en to !ark as long as he wants to' we need merel make it increasingl e&!ensi$e for him to do so. the word coercion im!lies arbitrar decisions of distant and irres!onsible bureaucrats' but this is not a necessar !art of its meaning. or e$en to !retend we en#o it. 0ot !rohibition. "f the word res!onsibilit is to be used at all. "is the !roduct of definite social arrangements. ")es!onsibilit . if there are to be differences in indi$idual inheritance. (a&ing is a good coerci$e de$ice. but carefull biased o!tions are what we offer him. b sa ing it o$er and o$er without a!olog or embarrassment.+ertainl not b tr ing to control his beha$ior solel b a $erbal a!!eal to his sense of res!onsibilit .As a geneticall trained biologist " den that it is. We are willing to sa "(hou shalt not rob banks.ow do we !re$ent such action. (o man . We institute and (grumblingl ) su!!ort ta&es and other coerci$e de$ices to esca!e the horror of the commons. +onsider bank*robbing.

. But genetic recombination continuall makes a mocker of the doctrine of "like father. and a trust fund can kee! his estate intact. As the human !o!ulation has increased. "nfringements made in the distant !ast are acce!ted because no contem!orar com!lains of a loss. (he alternati$e of the commons is too horrif ing to contem!late. (hat which we ha$e done for thousands of ears is also action. the !ollution of ad$ertising) as the sign of $irtue/$er new enclosure of the commons in$ol$es the infringement of somebod 2s !ersonal libert . the commons has had to be abandoned in one as!ect after another. )estrictions on the dis!osal of domestic sewage are widel acce!ted in the Western world' we are still struggling to close the commons to !ollution b automobiles. discounting as best we can for our lack of e&!erience. ?n the basis of such a com!arison. Whene$er a reform measure is !ro!osed it is often defeated when its o!!onents trium!hantl disco$er a flaw in it. without its consent. (hese restrictions are still not com!lete throughout the world. We must admit that our legal s stem of !ri$ate !ro!ert !lus inheritance is un#ust**but we !ut u! with it because we are not con$inced. worshi!!ers of the status %uo sometimes im!l that no reform is !ossible without unanimous agreement. "t is one of the !eculiarities of the warfare between reform and the status %uo that it is thoughtlessl go$erned b a double standard. fertili5ing o!erations. insecticide s!ra ers. an im!lication contrar to historical fact.inheritance**that those who are biologicall more fit to be the custodians of !ro!ert and !ower should legall inherit more. "s this because our . "n#ustice is !referable to total ruin. (here is almost no restriction on the !ro!agation of sound wa$es in the !ublic medium. factories. ?nce we are aware that status %uo is action. and !ain (that is. that an one has in$ented a better s stem. (he sho!!ing !ublic is assaulted with mindless music. automatic re#ection of !ro!osed reforms is based on one of two unconscious assum!tions: (i) that the status %uo is !erfect' or (ii) that the choice we face is between reform and no action' if the !ro!osed reform is im!erfect. while we wait for a !erfect !ro!osal. we !resumabl should take no action at all. and atomic energ installations.<<< !eo!le for e$er one !erson who is whisked from coast to coast 6 hours faster.e'ognition of /e'essity . we can make a rational decision which will not in$ol$e the unworkable assum!tion that onl !erfect s stems are tolerable. enclosing farm land and restricting !astures and hunting and fishing areas. is #ustifiable onl under conditions of low*!o!ulation densit . like son" im!licit in our laws of legal inheritance.erha!s the sim!lest summar of this anal sis of man2s !o!ulation !roblems is this: the commons. 3omewhat later we saw that the commons as a !lace for waste dis!osal would also ha$e to be abandoned. if #ustifiable at all. "n a still more embr onic state is our recognition of the e$ils of the commons in matters of !leasure. We are a long wa from outlawing the commons in matters of !leasure.uritan inheritance makes us $iew !leasure as something of a sin. we can then com!are its disco$erable ad$antages and disad$antages with the !redicted ad$antages and disad$antages of the !ro!osed reform. An idiot can inherit millions. :irst we abandoned the commons in food gathering. But we can ne$er do nothing. "t also !roduce e$ils. "t is the newl !ro!osed infringements that we $igorousl o!!ose' cries . As Gingsle 7a$is has !ointed out (41). at the moment. As nearl as " can make out. Ad$ertisers mudd the airwa$es of radio and tele$ision and !ollute the $iew of tra$elers. ?ur go$ernment is !a ing out billions of dollars to create su!ersonic trans!ort which will disturb @<.

is the necessit of abandoning the commons in breeding. to a$oid hard decisions man of us are tem!ted to !ro!agandi5e for conscience and res!onsible !arenthood. ":reedom is the recognition of necessit . . because an a!!eal to inde!endentl acting consciences selects for the disa!!earance of all conscience in the long run. (he tem!tation must be resisted. and that $er soon. and an increase in an&iet in the short. :reedom to breed will bring ruin to all." (he most im!ortant as!ect of necessit that we must now recogni5e. But what does "freedom" mean.egel who said. " belie$e it was . (he onl wa we can !reser$e and nurture other and more !recious freedoms is b relin%uishing the freedom to breed.When men mutuall agreed to !ass laws against robbing. "ndi$iduals locked into the logic of the commons are free onl to bring on uni$ersal ruin' once the see the necessit of mutual coercion.of "rights" and "freedom" fill the air. ":reedom is the recognition of necessit "**and it is the role of education to re$eal to all the necessit of abandoning the freedom to breed. 0o technical solution can rescue us from the miser of o$er!o!ulation. ?nl so. mankind became more free. can we !ut an end to this as!ect of the traged of the commons. the become free to !ursue other goals. At the moment. not less so.

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