Flawed Perceptions in the Foundations of Public Policy: The Case of Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons

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"How current issues of resource management are dealt with depends in large part on our perceptions of how similar issues were dealt with before. Thus it behooves us to know historical facts and to consider the perspectives of other disciplines that may bear on the problem too. Also, we must be sure we are not attempting to answer the wrong problem. In dealing with commons problems we would do better to focus not on what might cause a commons to be ruined, but on what allowed it to be a successful sustainable system for so long. Although Garrett Hardin did not attribute the tragedy of the commons to any historical time or place, others developing the idea have advanced purported examples of destructive overuse of pasturage in mediaeval England; and this has 'infected' graduate students and policy analysts with the misperception that tragedies of the commons really happened there and then."
tragedy of the commons, public policy