您现在的位置是: 首页 >> 求学中南 >> 好书推荐 >> 内容页
(参考)哈丁:公地的悲剧(英文版)
发布日期:2006-04-13 12:13:54
作者:

 

                   At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear
                  war, J.B. Wiesner and H.F. York concluded that: "Both sides in
                  the arms race are卌onfronted by the dilemma of steadily
                  increasing military power and steadily decreasing national
                  security. It is our considered professional judgment that this
                  dilemma has no technical solution. If the great powers
                  continue to look for solutions in the area of science and
                  technology only, the result will be to worsen the situation.''
                  [1]
                  I would like to focus your attention not on the subject of the
                  article (national security in a nuclear world) but on the kind
                  of conclusion they reached, namely that there is no technical
                  solution to the problem. An implicit and almost universal
                  assumption of discussions published in professional and
                  semipopular scientific journals is that the problem under
                  discussion has a technical solution. A technical solution may
                  be defined as one that requires a change only in the
                  techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or
                  nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of
                  morality.
                  In our day (though not in earlier times) technical solutions
                  are always welcome. Because of previous failures in prophecy,
                  it takes courage to assert that a desired technical solution
                  is not possible. Wiesner and York exhibited this courage;
                  publishing in a science journal, they insisted that the
                  solution to the problem was not to be found in the natural
                  sciences. They cautiously qualified their statement with the
                  phrase, "It is our considered professional judgment...."
                  Whether they were right or not is not the concern of the
                  present article. Rather, the concern here is with the
                  important concept of a class of human problems which can be
                  called "no technical solution problems," and more
                  specifically, with the identification and discussion of one of
                  these.
                  It is easy to show that the class is not a null class. Recall
                  the game of tick-tack-toe. Consider the problem, "How can I
                  win the game of tick-tack-toe?" It is well known that I
                  cannot, if I assume (in keeping with the conventions of game
                  theory) that my opponent understands the game perfectly. Put
                  another way, there is no "technical solution" to the problem.
                  I can win only by giving a radical meaning to the word "win."
                  I can hit my opponent over the head; or I can falsify the
                  records. Every way in which I "win" involves, in some sense,
                  an abandonment of the game, as we intuitively understand it.
                  (I can also, of course, openly abandon the game -- refuse to
                  play it. This is what most adults do.)
                  The class of "no technical solution problems" has members. My
                  thesis is that the "population problem," as conventionally
                  conceived, is a member of this class. How it is conventionally
                  conceived needs some comment. It is fair to say that most
                  people who anguish over the population problem are trying to
                  find a way to avoid the evils of overpopulation without
                  relinquishing any of the privileges they now enjoy. They think
                  that farming the seas or developing new strains of wheat will
                  solve the problem -- technologically. I try to show here that
                  the solution they seek cannot be found. The population problem
                  cannot be solved in a technical way, any more than can the
                  problem of winning the game of tick-tack-toe.
                  What Shall We Maximize?
                  Population, as Malthus said, naturally tends to grow
                  "geometrically," or, as we would now say, exponentially. In a
                  finite world this means that the per-capita share of the
                  world's goods must decrease. Is ours a finite world?
                  A fair defense can be put forward for the view that the world
                  is infinite or that we do not know that it is not. But, in
                  terms of the practical problems that we must face in the next
                  few generations with the foreseeable technology, it is clear
                  that we will greatly increase human misery if we do not,
                  during the immediate future, assume that the world available
                  to the terrestrial human population is finite. "Space" is no
                  escape. [2]
                  A finite world can support only a finite population;
                  therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero. (The
                  case of perpetual wide fluctuations above and below zero is a
                  trivial variant that need not be discussed.) When this
                  condition is met, what will be the situation of mankind?
                  Specifically, can Bentham's goal of "the greatest good for the
                  greatest number" be realized?
                  No -- for two reasons, each sufficient by itself. The first is
                  a theoretical one. It is not mathematically possible to
                  maximize for two (or more) variables at the same time. This
                  was clearly stated by von Neumann and Morgenstern, [3] but the
                  principle is implicit in the theory of partial differential
                  equations, dating back at least to D'Alembert (1717-1783).
                  The second reason springs directly from biological facts. To
                  live, any organism must have a source of energy (for example,
                  food). This energy is utilized for two purposes: mere
                  maintenance and work. For man maintenance of life requires
                  about 1600 kilocalories a day ("maintenance calories").
                  Anything that he does over and above merely staying alive will
                  be defined as work, and is supported by "work calories" which
                  he takes in. Work calories are used not only for what we call
                  work in common speech; they are also required for all forms of
                  enjoyment, from swimming and automobile racing to playing
                  music and writing poetry. If our goal is to maximize
                  population it is obvious what we must do: We must make the
                  work calories per person approach as close to zero as
                  possible. No gourmet meals, no vacations, no sports, no music,
                  no literature, no art匢 think that everyone will grant, without
                  argument or proof, that maximizing population does not
                  maximize goods. Bentham's goal is impossible.
                  In reaching this conclusion I have made the usual assumption
                  that it is the acquisition of energy that is the problem. The
                  appearance of atomic energy has led some to question this
                  assumption. However, given an infinite source of energy,
                  population growth still produces an inescapable problem. The
                  problem of the acquisition of energy is replaced by the
                  problem of its dissipation, as J. H. Fremlin has so wittily
                  shown. [4] The arithmetic signs in the analysis are, as it
                  were, reversed; but Bentham's goal is unobtainable.
                  The optimum population is, then, less than the maximum. The
                  difficulty of defining the optimum is enormous; so far as I
                  know, no one has seriously tackled this problem. Reaching an
                  acceptable and stable solution will surely require more than
                  one generation of hard analytical work -- and much persuasion.

                  We want the maximum good per person; but what is good? To one
                  person it is wilderness, to another it is ski lodges for
                  thousands. To one it is estuaries to nourish ducks for hunters
                  to shoot; to another it is factory land. Comparing one good
                  with another is, we usually say, impossible because goods are
                  incommensurable. Incommensurables cannot be compared.
                  Theoretically this may be true; but in real life
                  incommensurables are commensurable. Only a criterion of
                  judgment and a system of weighting are needed. In nature the
                  criterion is survival. Is it better for a species to be small
                  and hideable, or large and powerful? Natural selection
                  commensurates the incommensurables. The compromise achieved
                  depends on a natural weighting of the values of the variables.

                  Man must imitate this process. There is no doubt that in fact
                  he already does, but unconsciously. It is when the hidden
                  decisions are made explicit that the arguments begin. The
                  problem for the years ahead is to work out an acceptable
                  theory of weighting. Synergistic effects, nonlinear variation,
                  and difficulties in discounting the future make the
                  intellectual problem difficult, but not (in principle)
                  insoluble.
                  Has any cultural group solved this practical problem at the
                  present time, even on an intuitive level? One simple fact
                  proves that none has: there is no prosperous population in the
                  world today that has, and has had for some time, a growth rate
                  of zero. Any people that has intuitively identified its
                  optimum point will soon reach it, after which its growth rate
                  becomes and remains zero.
                  Of course, a positive growth rate might be taken as evidence
                  that a population is below its optimum. However, by any
                  reasonable standards, the most rapidly growing populations on
                  earth today are (in general) the most miserable. This
                  association (which need not be invariable) casts doubt on the
                  optimistic assumption that the positive growth rate of a
                  population is evidence that it has yet to reach its optimum.
                  We can make little progress in working toward optimum
                  population size until we explicitly exorcise the spirit of
                  Adam Smith in the field of practical demography. In economic
                  affairs, The Wealth of Nations (1776) popularized the
                  "invisible hand," the idea that an individual who "intends
                  only his own gain," is, as it were, "led by an invisible hand
                  to promote卼he public interest." [5] Adam Smith did not assert
                  that this was invariably true, and perhaps neither did any of
                  his followers. But he contributed to a dominant tendency of
                  thought that has ever since interfered with positive action
                  based on rational analysis, namely, the tendency to assume
                  that decisions reached individually will, in fact, be the best
                  decisions for an entire society. If this assumption is correct
                  it justifies the continuance of our present policy of laissez
                  faire in reproduction. If it is correct we can assume that men
                  will control their individual fecundity so as to produce the
                  optimum population. If the assumption is not correct, we need
                  to reexamine our individual freedoms to see which ones are
                  defensible.
                  Tragedy of Freedom in a Commons
                  The rebuttal to the invisible hand in population control is to
                  be found in a scenario first sketched in a little-known
                  Pamphlet in 1833 by a mathematical amateur named William
                  Forster Lloyd (1794-1852). [6] We may well call it "the
                  tragedy of the commons," using the word "tragedy" as the
                  philosopher Whitehead used it [7]: "The essence of dramatic
                  tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the
                  remorseless working of things." He then goes on to say, "This
                  inevitableness of destiny can only be illustrated in terms of
                  human life by incidents which in fact involve unhappiness. For
                  it is only by them that the futility of escape can be made
                  evident in the drama."
                  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 shared by all the herdsmen, the
                  negative utility for any particular decision璵aking herdsman is
                  only a fraction of - 1.
                  Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational
                  herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to
                  pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another....
                  But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational
                  herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man
                  is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd
                  without limit -- in a world that is limited. Ruin is the
                  destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own
                  best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the
                  commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.
                  Some would say that this is a platitude. Would that it were!
                  In a sense, it was learned thousands of years ago, but natural
                  selection favors the forces of psychological denial. [8] The
                  individual benefits as an individual from his ability to deny
                  the truth even though society as a whole, of which he is a
                  part, suffers. Education can counteract the natural tendency
                  to do the wrong thing, but the inexorable succession of
                  generations requires that the basis for this knowledge be
                  constantly refreshed.
                  A simple incident that occurred a few years ago in Leominster,
                  Massachusetts shows how perishable the knowledge is. During
                  the Christmas shopping season the parking meters downtown were
                  covered with plastic bags that bore tags reading: "Do not open
                  until after Christmas. Free parking courtesy of the mayor and
                  city council." In other words, facing the prospect of an
                  increased demand for already scarce space, the city fathers
                  reinstituted the system of the commons. (Cynically, we suspect
                  that they gained more votes than they lost by this
                  retrogressive act.)
                  In an approximate way, the logic of the commons has been
                  understood for a long time, perhaps since the discovery of
                  agriculture or the invention of private property in real
                  estate. But it is understood mostly only in special cases
                  which are not sufficiently generalized. Even at this late
                  date, cattlemen leasing national land on the Western ranges
                  demonstrate no more than an ambivalent understanding, in
                  constantly pressuring federal authorities to increase the head
                  count to the point where overgrazing produces erosion and
                  weed-dominance. Likewise, the oceans of the world continue to
                  suffer from the survival of the philosophy of the commons.
                  Maritime nations still respond automatically to the shibboleth
                  of the "freedom of the seas." Professing to believe in the
                  "inexhaustible resources of the oceans," they bring species
                  after species of fish and whales closer to extinction. [9]
                  The National Parks present another instance of the working out
                  of the tragedy of the commons. At present, they are open to
                  all, without limit. The parks themselves are limited in extent
                  -- there is only one Yosemite Valley -- whereas population
                  seems to grow without limit. The values that visitors seek in
                  the parks are steadily eroded. Plainly, we must soon cease to
                  treat the parks as commons or they will be of no value to
                  anyone.
                  What shall we do? We have several options. We might sell them
                  off as private property. We might keep them as public
                  property, but allocate the right to enter them. The allocation
                  might be on the basis of wealth, by the use of an auction
                  system. It might be on the basis of merit, as defined by some
                  agreed璾pon standards. It might be by lottery. Or it might be
                  on a first-come, first-served basis, administered to long
                  queues. These, I think, are all objectionable. But we must
                  choose -- or acquiesce in the destruction of the commons that
                  we call our National Parks.

 Pollution
                  In a reverse way, the tragedy of the commons reappears in
                  problems of pollution. Here it is not a question of taking
                  something out of the commons, but of putting something in --
                  sewage, or chemical, radioactive, and heat wastes into water;
                  noxious and dangerous fumes into the air; and distracting and
                  unpleasant advertising signs into the line of sight. The
                  calculations of utility are much the same as before. The
                  rational man finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he
                  discharges into the commons is less than the cost of purifying
                  his wastes before releasing them. Since this is true for
                  everyone, we are locked into a system of "fouling our own
                  nest," so long as we behave only as independent, rational,
                  free enterprisers.
                  The tragedy of the commons as a food basket is averted by
                  private property, or something formally like it. But the air
                  and waters surrounding us cannot readily be fenced, and so the
                  tragedy of the commons as a cesspool must be prevented by
                  different means, by coercive laws or taxing devices that make
                  it cheaper for the polluter to treat his pollutants than to
                  discharge them untreated. We have not progressed as far with
                  the solution of this problem as we have with the first.
                  Indeed, our particular concept of private property, which
                  deters us from exhausting the positive resources of the earth,
                  favors pollution. The owner of a factory on the bank of a
                  stream -- whose property extends to the middle of the stream
                  -- often has difficulty seeing why it is not his natural right
                  to muddy the waters flowing past his door. The law, always
                  behind the times, requires elaborate stitching and fitting to
                  adapt it to this newly perceived aspect of the commons.
                  The pollution problem is a consequence of population. It did
                  not much matter how a lonely American frontiersman disposed of
                  his waste. "Flowing water purifies itself every ten miles," my
                  grandfather used to say, and the myth was near enough to the
                  truth when he was a boy, for there were not too many people.
                  But as population became denser, the natural chemical and
                  biological recycling processes became overloaded, calling for
                  a redefinition of property rights.
                  How to Legislate Temperance?
                  Analysis of the pollution problem as a function of population
                  density uncovers a not generally recognized principle of
                  morality, namely: the morality of an act is a function of the
                  state of the system at the time it is performed. [10] Using
                  the commons as a cesspool does not harm the general public
                  under frontier conditions, because there is no public; the
                  same behavior in a metropolis is unbearable. A hundred and
                  fifty years ago a plainsman could kill an American bison, cut
                  out only the tongue for his dinner, and discard the rest of
                  the animal. He was not in any important sense being wasteful.
                  Today, with only a few thousand bison left, we would be
                  appalled at such behavior.
                  In passing, it is worth noting that the morality of an act
                  cannot be determined from a photograph. One does not know
                  whether a man killing an elephant or setting fire to the
                  grassland is harming others until one knows the total system
                  in which his act appears. "One picture is worth a thousand
                  words," said an ancient Chinese; but it may take ten thousand
                  words to validate it. It is as tempting to ecologists as it is
                  to reformers in general to try to persuade others by way of
                  the photographic shortcut. But the essence of an argument
                  cannot be photographed: it must be presented rationally -- in
                  words.
                  That morality is system-sensitive escaped the attention of
                  most codifiers of ethics in the past. "Thou shalt not? is the
                  form of traditional ethical directives which make no allowance
                  for particular circumstances. The laws of our society follow
                  the pattern of ancient ethics, and therefore are poorly suited
                  to governing a complex, crowded, changeable world. Our
                  epicyclic solution is to augment statutory law with
                  administrative law. Since it is practically impossible to
                  spell out all the conditions under which it is safe to burn
                  trash in the back yard or to run an automobile without
                  smog璫ontrol, by law we delegate the details to bureaus. The
                  result is administrative law, which is rightly feared for an
                  ancient reason -- Quis custodies ipsos custodes? --Who shall
                  watch the watchers themselves? John Adams said that we must
                  have a "government of laws and not men." Bureau
                  administrators, trying to evaluate the morality of acts in the
                  total system, are singularly liable to corruption, producing a
                  government by men, not laws.
                  Prohibition is easy to legislate (though not necessarily to
                  enforce); but how do we legislate temperance? Experience
                  indicates that it can be accomplished best through the
                  mediation of administrative law. We limit possibilities
                  unnecessarily if we suppose that the sentiment of Quis
                  custodiet denies us the use of administrative law. We should
                  rather retain the phrase as a perpetual reminder of fearful
                  dangers we cannot avoid. The great challenge facing us now is
                  to invent the corrective feedbacks that are needed to keep
                  custodians honest. We must find ways to legitimate the needed
                  authority of both the custodians and the corrective feedbacks.

                  Freedom to Breed Is Intolerable
                  The tragedy of the commons is involved in population problems
                  in another way. In a world governed solely by the principle of
                  "dog eat dog" --if indeed there ever was such a world--how
                  many children a family had would not be a matter of public
                  concern. Parents who bred too exuberantly would leave fewer
                  descendants, not more, because they would be unable to care
                  adequately for their children. David Lack and others have
                  found that such a negative feedback demonstrably controls the
                  fecundity of birds. [11] But men are not birds, and have not
                  acted like them for millenniums, at least.
                  If each human family were dependent only on its own resources;
                  if the children of improvident parents starved to death; if
                  thus, over breeding brought its own "punishment" to the germ
                  line -- then there would be no public interest in controlling
                  the breeding of families. But our society is deeply committed
                  to the welfare state, [12] and hence is confronted with
                  another aspect of the tragedy of the commons.
                  In a welfare state, how shall we deal with the family, the
                  religion, the race, or the class (or indeed any
                  distinguishable and cohesive group) that adopts over breeding
                  as a policy to secure its own aggrandizement? [13] To couple
                  the concept of freedom to breed with the belief that everyone
                  born has an equal right to the commons is to lock the world
                  into a tragic course of action.
                  Unfortunately this is just the course of action that is being
                  pursued by the United Nations. In late 1967, some thirty
                  nations agreed to the following: "The Universal Declaration of
                  Human Rights describes the family as the natural and
                  fundamental unit of society. It follows that 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.'' [14]
                  It is painful to have to deny categorically the validity of
                  this right; denying it, one feels as uncomfortable as a
                  resident of Salem, Massachusetts, who denied the reality of
                  witches in the seventeenth century. At the present time, in
                  liberal quarters, something like a taboo acts to inhibit
                  criticism of the United Nations. There is a feeling that the
                  United Nations is "our last and best hope," that we shouldn't
                  find fault with it; we shouldn't play into the hands of the
                  archconservatives. However, let us not forget what Robert
                  Louis Stevenson said: "The truth that is suppressed by friends
                  is the readiest weapon of the enemy." If we love the truth we
                  must openly deny the validity of the Universal Declaration of
                  Human Rights, even though it is promoted by the United
                  Nations. We should also join with Kingsley Davis [15] in
                  attempting to get Planned Parenthood-World Population to see
                  the error of its ways in embracing the same tragic ideal.
                  Conscience Is Self-Eliminating
                  It is a mistake to think that we can control the breeding of
                  mankind in the long run by an appeal to conscience. Charles
                  Galton Darwin made this point when he spoke on the centennial
                  of the publication of his grandfather's great book. The
                  argument is straightforward and Darwinian.
                  People vary. Confronted with appeals to limit breeding, some
                  people will undoubtedly respond to the plea more than others.
                  Those who have more children will produce a larger fraction of
                  the next generation than those with more susceptible
                  consciences. The differences will be accentuated, generation
                  by generation.
                  In C. G. Darwin's words: "It may well be that it would take
                  hundreds of generations for the progenitive instinct to
                  develop in this way, but if it should do so, nature would have
                  taken her revenge, and the variety Homo contracipiens would
                  become extinct and would be replaced by the variety Homo
                  progenitivus. [16]
                  The argument assumes that conscience or the desire for
                  children (no matter which) is hereditary-but hereditary only
                  in the most general formal sense. The result will be the same
                  whether the attitude is transmitted through germ cells, or
                  exosomatically, to use A. J. Lotka's term. (If one denies the
                  latter possibility as well as the former, then what's the
                  point of education?) The argument has here been stated in the
                  context of the population problem, but it applies equally well
                  to any instance in which society appeals to an individual
                  exploiting a commons to restrain himself for the general good
                  -- by means of his conscience. To make such an appeal is to
                  set up a selective system that works toward the elimination of
                  conscience from the race.
                  Pathogenic Effects of Conscience
                  The long-term disadvantage of an appeal to conscience should
                  be enough to condemn it; but it has serious short-term
                  disadvantages as well. If we ask a man who is exploiting a
                  commons to desist "in the name of conscience," what are we
                  saying to him? What does he hear? -- not only at the moment
                  but also in the wee small hours of the night when, half
                  asleep, he remembers not merely the words we used but also the
                  nonverbal communication cues we gave him unawares? Sooner or
                  later, consciously or subconsciously, he senses that he has
                  received two communications, and that they are contradictory:
                  1. (intended communication) "If you don't do as we ask, we
                  will openly condemn you for not acting like a responsible
                  citizen"; 2. (the unintended communication) "If you do behave
                  as we ask, we will secretly condemn you for a simpleton who
                  can be shamed into standing aside while the rest of us exploit
                  the commons."
                  Every man then is caught in what Bateson has called a "double
                  bind." Bateson and his co-workers have made a plausible case
                  for viewing the double bind as an important causative factor
                  in the genesis of schizophrenia. [17] The double bind may not
                  always be so damaging, but it always endangers the mental
                  health of anyone to whom it is applied. "A bad conscience,"
                  said Nietzsche, "is a kind of illness."
                  To conjure up a conscience in others is tempting to anyone who
                  wishes to extend his control beyond the legal limits. Leaders
                  at the highest level succumb to this temptation. Has any
                  president during the past generation failed to call on labor
                  unions to moderate voluntarily their demands for higher wages,
                  or to steel companies to honor voluntary guidelines on prices?
                  I can recall none. The rhetoric used on such occasions is
                  designed to produce feelings of guilt in noncooperators.
                  For centuries it was assumed without proof that guilt was a
                  valuable, perhaps even an indispensable, ingredient of the
                  civilized life. Now, in this post-Freudian world, we doubt it.

                  Paul Goodman speaks from the modern point of view when he
                  says: "No good has ever come from feeling guilty, neither
                  intelligence, policy, nor compassion. The guilty do not pay
                  attention to the object but only to themselves, and not even
                  to their own interests, which might make sense, but to their
                  anxieties.'' [18]
                  One does not have to be a professional psychiatrist to see the
                  consequences of anxiety. We in the Western world are just
                  emerging from a dreadful two centuries-long Dark Ages of Eros
                  that was sustained partly by prohibition laws, but perhaps
                  more effectively by the anxiety-generating mechanisms of
                  education. Alex Comfort has told the story well in The Anxiety
                  Makers; [19] it is not a pretty one.
                  Since proof is difficult, we may even concede that the results
                  of anxiety may sometimes, from certain points of view, be
                  desirable. The larger question we should ask is whether, as a
                  matter of policy, we should ever encourage the use of a
                  technique the tendency (if not the intention) of which is
                  psychologically pathogenic. We hear much talk these days of
                  responsible parenthood; the coupled words are incorporated
                  into the titles of some organizations devoted to birth
                  control. Some people have proposed massive propaganda
                  campaigns to instill responsibility into the nation's (or the
                  world's) breeders. But what is the meaning of the word
                  conscience? When we use the word responsibility in the absence
                  of substantial sanctions are we not trying to browbeat a free
                  man in a commons into acting against his own interest?
                  Responsibility is a verbal counterfeit for a substantial quid
                  pro quo. It is an attempt to get something for nothing.
                  If the word responsibility is to be used at all, I suggest
                  that it be in the sense Charles Frankel uses it. [20]
                  "Responsibility," says this philosopher, "is the product of
                  definite social arrangements." Notice that Frankel calls for
                  social arrangements -- not propaganda.
                  Mutual Coercion Mutually Agreed Upon
                  The social arrangements that produce responsibility are
                  arrangements that create coercion, of some sort. Consider bank
                  robbing. The man who takes money from a bank acts as if the
                  bank were a commons. How do we prevent such action? Certainly
                  not by trying to control his behavior solely by a verbal
                  appeal to his sense of responsibility. Rather than rely on
                  propaganda we follow Frankel's lead and insist that a bank is
                  not a commons; we seek the definite social arrangements that
                  will keep it from becoming a commons. That we thereby infringe
                  on the freedom of would-be robbers we neither deny nor regret.

                  The morality of bank robbing is particularly easy to
                  understand because we accept complete prohibition of this
                  activity. We are willing to say "Thou shalt not rob banks,"
                  without providing for exceptions. But temperance also can be
                  created by coercion. Taxing is a good coercive device. To keep
                  downtown shoppers temperate in their use of parking space we
                  introduce parking meters for short periods, and traffic fines
                  for longer ones. We need not actually forbid a citizen to park
                  as long as he wants to; we need merely make it increasingly
                  expensive for him to do so. Not prohibition, but carefully
                  biased options are what we offer him. A Madison Avenue man
                  might call this persuasion; I prefer the greater candor of the
                  word coercion.
                  Coercion is a dirty word to most liberals now, but it need not
                  forever be so. As with the four-letter words, its dirtiness
                  can be cleansed away by exposure to the light, by saying it
                  over and over without apology or embarrassment. To many, the
                  word coercion implies arbitrary decisions of distant and
                  irresponsible bureaucrats; but this is not a necessary part of
                  its meaning. The only kind of coercion I recommend is mutual
                  coercion, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people
                  affected.
                  To say that we mutually agree to coercion is not to say that
                  we are required to enjoy it, or even to pretend we enjoy it.
                  Who enjoys taxes? We all grumble about them. But we accept
                  compulsory taxes because we recognize that voluntary taxes
                  would favor the conscienceless. We institute and (grumblingly)
                  support taxes and other coercive devices to escape the horror
                  of the commons.
                  An alternative to the commons need not be perfectly just to be
                  preferable. With real estate and other material goods, the
                  alternative we have chosen is the institution of private
                  property coupled with legal inheritance. Is this system
                  perfectly just? As a genetically trained biologist I deny that
                  it is. It seems to me that, if there are to be differences in
                  individual inheritance, legal possession should be perfectly
                  correlated with biological inheritance-that those who are
                  biologically more fit to be the custodians of property and
                  power should legally inherit more. But genetic recombination
                  continually makes a mockery of the doctrine of "like father,
                  like son" implicit in our laws of legal inheritance. An idiot
                  can inherit millions, and a trust fund can keep his estate
                  intact. We must admit that our legal system of private
                  property plus inheritance is unjust -- but we put up with it
                  because we are not convinced, at the moment, that anyone has
                  invented a better system. The alternative of the commons is
                  too horrifying to contemplate. Injustice is preferable to
                  total ruin.
                  It is one of the peculiarities of the warfare between reform
                  and the status quo that it is thoughtlessly governed by a
                  double standard. Whenever a reform measure is proposed it is
                  often defeated when its opponents triumphantly discover a flaw
                  in it. As Kingsley Davis has pointed out, [21] worshipers of
                  the status quo sometimes imply that no reform is possible
                  without unanimous agreement, an implication contrary to
                  historical fact. As nearly as I can make out, automatic
                  rejection of proposed reforms is based on one of two
                  unconscious assumptions: (1) that the status quo is perfect;
                  or (2) that the choice we face is between reform and no
                  action; if the proposed reform is imperfect, we presumably
                  should take no action at all, while we wait for a perfect
                  proposal.
                  But we can never do nothing. That which we have done for
                  thousands of years is also action. It also produces evils.
                  Once we are aware that the status quo is action, we can then
                  compare its discoverable advantages and disadvantages with the
                  predicted advantages and disadvantages of the proposed reform,
                  discounting as best we can for our lack of experience. On the
                  basis of such a comparison, we can make a rational decision
                  which will not involve the unworkable assumption that only
                  perfect systems are tolerable.

 Recognition of Necessity
                  Perhaps the simplest summary of this analysis of man's
                  population problems is this: the commons, if justifiable at
                  all, is justifiable only under conditions of low-population
                  density. As the human population has increased, the commons
                  has had to be abandoned in one aspect after another.
                  First we abandoned the commons in food gathering, enclosing
                  farm land and restricting pastures and hunting and fishing
                  areas. These restrictions are still not complete throughout
                  the world.
                  Somewhat later we saw that the commons as a place for waste
                  disposal would also have to be abandoned. Restrictions on the
                  disposal of domestic sewage are widely accepted in the Western
                  world; we are still struggling to close the commons to
                  pollution by automobiles, factories, insecticide sprayers,
                  fertilizing operations, and atomic energy installations.
                  In a still more embryonic state is our recognition of the
                  evils of the commons in matters of pleasure. There is almost
                  no restriction on the propagation of sound waves in the public
                  medium. The shopping public is assaulted with mindless music,
                  without its consent. Our government has paid out billions of
                  dollars to create a supersonic transport which would disturb
                  50,000 people for every one person whisked from coast to coast
                  3 hours faster. Advertisers muddy the airwaves of radio and
                  television and pollute the view of travelers. We are a long
                  way from outlawing the commons in matters of pleasure. Is this
                  because our Puritan inheritance makes us view pleasure as
                  something of a sin, and pain (that is, the pollution of
                  advertising) as the sign of virtue?
                  Every new enclosure of the commons involves the infringement
                  of somebody's personal liberty. Infringements made in the
                  distant past are accepted because no contemporary complains of
                  a loss. It is the newly proposed infringements that we
                  vigorously oppose; cries of "rights" and "freedom" fill the
                  air. But what does "freedom" mean? When men mutually agreed to
                  pass laws against robbing, mankind became more free, not less
                  so. Individuals locked into the logic of the commons are free
                  only to bring on universal ruin; once they see the necessity
                  of mutual coercion, they become free to pursue other goals. I
                  believe it was Hegel who said, "Freedom is the recognition of
                  necessity."
                  The most important aspect of necessity that we must now
                  recognize, is the necessity of abandoning the commons in
                  breeding. No technical solution can rescue us from the misery
                  of overpopulation. Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all. At
                  the moment, to avoid hard decisions many of us are tempted to
                  propagandize for conscience and responsible parenthood. The
                  temptation must be resisted, because an appeal to
                  independently acting consciences selects for the disappearance
                  of all conscience in the long run, and an increase in anxiety
                  in the short.
                  The only way we can preserve and nurture other and more
                  precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed,
                  and that very soon. "Freedom is the recognition of necessity"
                  -- and it is the role of education to reveal to all the
                  necessity of abandoning the freedom to breed. Only so, can we
                  put an end to this aspect of the tragedy of the commons.
                  Notes
                  1. J. B. Wiesner and H. F. York, Scientific American 211 (No.
                  4), 27 (1964).
                  2. G. Hardin, Journal of Heredity 50, 68 (1959), S. von
                  Hoernor, Science 137, 18, (1962).
                  3. J. von Neumann and O. Morgenstern, Theory of Games and
                  Economic Behavior (Princeton University Press, Princeton,
                  N.J., 1947), p. 11.
                  4. J. H. Fremlin, New Scientist, No. 415 (1964), p. 285.
                  5. A. Smith, The Wealth of Nations (Modern Library, New York,
                  1937), p. 423.
                  6. W. F. Lloyd, Two Lectures on the Checks to Population
                  (Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 1833).
                  7. A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (Mentor, New
                  York, 1948), p. 17.
                  8. G. Hardin, Ed., Population, Evolution, and Birth Control
                  (Freeman, San Francisco, 1964), p. 56.
                  9. S. McVay, Scientific American 216 (No. 8), 13 (1966).
                  10. J. Fletcher, Situation Ethics (Westminster, Philadelphia,
                  1966).
                  11. D. Lack, The Natural Regulation of Animal Numbers
                  (Clarendon Press, Oxford, England, 1954).
                  12. H. Girvetz, From Wealth to Welfare (Stanford University
                  Press, Stanford, Calif, 1950).
                  13. G. Hardin, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 6, 366
                  (1963).
                  14. U Thant, International Planned Parenthood News, No. 168
                  (February 1968), p. 3.
                  15. K. Davis, Science 158, 730 (1967).
                  16. S. Tax, Ed., Evolution After Darwin (University of Chicago
                  Press, Chicago, 1960), vol. 2, p. 469.
                  17. G. Bateson, D. D. Jackson, J. Haley, J. Weakland,
                  Behavioral Science 1, 251 (1956).
                  18. P. Goodman, New York Review of Books 10 (8), 22 (23 May
                  1968).
                  19. A. Comfort, The Anxiety Makers (Nelson, London, 1967).
                  20. C. Frankel, The Case for Modern Man (Harper & Row, New
                  York, 1955), p. 203.
                  21. J. D. Roslansky, Genetics and the Future of Man
                  (Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York, 1966), p. 177.

 

                  THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMON REVISITED
                  by Beryl Crowe (1969)
                  reprinted in MANAGING THE COMMONS
                  by Garrett Hardin and John Baden
                  W.H. Freeman, 1977; ISBN 0-7167-0476-5
                  "There has developed in the contemporary natural sciences a
                  recognition that there is a subset of problems, such as
                  population, atomic war, and environmental corruption, for
                  which there are no technical solutions.
                  "There is also an increasing recognition among contemporary
                  social scientists that there is a subset of problems, such as
                  population, atomic war, environmental corruption, and the
                  recovery of a livable urban environment, for which there are
                  no current political solutions. The thesis of this article is
                  that the common area shared by these two subsets contains most
                  of the critical problems that threaten the very existence of
                  contemporary man." [p. 53]
                  ASSUMPTIONS NECESSARY TO AVOID THE TRAGEDY
                  "In passing the technically insoluble problems over to the
                  political and social realm for solution, Hardin made three
                  critical assumptions:
                  (1) that there exists, or can be developed, a 'criterion of
                  judgment and system of weighting . . .' that will 'render the
                  incommensurables . . . commensurable . . . ' in real life;
                  (2) that, possessing this criterion of judgment, 'coercion can
                  be mutually agreed upon,' and that the application of coercion
                  to effect a solution to problems will be effective in modern
                  society; and
                  (3) that the administrative system, supported by the criterion
                  of judgment and access to coercion, can and will protect the
                  commons from further desecration." [p. 55]
                  ERODING MYTH OF THE COMMON VALUE SYSTEM
                  "In America there existed, until very recently, a set of
                  conditions which perhaps made the solution to Hardin's subset
                  possible; we lived with the myth that we were 'one people,
                  indivisible. . . .' This myth postulated that we were the
                  great 'melting pot' of the world wherein the diverse cultural
                  ores of Europe were poured into the crucible of the frontier
                  experience to produce a new alloy -- an American civilization.
                  This new civilization was presumably united by a common value
                  system that was democratic, equalitarian, and existing under
                  universally enforceable rules contained in the Constitution
                  and the Bill of Rights.
                  "In the United States today, however, there is emerging a new
                  set of behavior patterns which suggest that the myth is either
                  dead or dying. Instead of believing and behaving in accordance
                  with the myth, large sectors of the population are developing
                  life-styles and value hierarchies that give contemporary
                  Americans an appearance more closely analogous to the
                  particularistic, primitive forms of 'tribal' organizations in
                  geographic proximity than to that shining new alloy, the
                  American civilization." [p. 56]
                  "Looking at a more recent analysis of the sickness of the core
                  city, Wallace F. Smith has argued that the productive model of
                  the city is no longer viable for the purposes of economic
                  analysis. Instead, he develops a model of the city as a site
                  for leisure consumption, and then seems to suggest that the
                  nature of this model is such is such that the city cannot
                  regain its health because the leisure demands are value-based
                  and, hence do not admit to compromise and accommodation;
                  consequently there is no way of deciding among these value-
                  oriented demands that are being made on the core city.
                  "In looking for the cause of the erosion of the myth of a
                  common value system, it seems to me that so long as our
                  perceptions and knowledge of other groups were formed largely
                  through the written media of communication, the American myth
                  that we were a giant melting pot of equalitarians could be
                  sustained. In such a perceptual field it is tenable, if not
                  obvious, that men are motivated by interests. Interests can
                  always be compromised and accommodated without undermining our
                  very being by sacrificing values. Under the impact of
                  electronic media, however, this psychological distance has
                  broken down and now we discover that these people with whom we
                  could formerly compromise on interests are not, after all,
                  really motivated by interests but by values. Their behavior in
                  our very living room betrays a set of values, moreover, that
                  are incompatible with our own, and consequently the
                  compromises that we make are not those of contract but of
                  culture. While the former are acceptable, any form of
                  compromise on the latter is not a form of rational behavior
                  but is rather a clear case of either apostasy or heresy. Thus
                  we have arrived not at an age of accommodation but one of
                  confrontation. In such an age 'incommensurables' remain
                  'incommensurable' in real life." [p. 59]
                  EROSION OF THE MYTH OF THE MONOPOLY OF COERCIVE FORCE
                  "In the past, those who no longer subscribed to the values of
                  the dominant culture were held in check by the myth that the
                  state possessed a monopoly on coercive force. This myth has
                  undergone continual erosion since the end of World War II
                  owing to the success of the strategy of guerrilla warfare, as
                  first revealed to the French in Indochina, and later
                  conclusively demonstrated in Algeria. Suffering as we do from
                  what Senator Fulbright has called 'the arrogance of power,' we
                  have been extremely slow to learn the lesson in Vietnam,
                  although we now realize that war is political and cannot be
                  won by military means. It is apparent that the myth of the
                  monopoly of coercive force as it was first qualified in the
                  civil rights conflict in the South, then in our urban ghettos,
                  next on the streets of Chicago, and now on our college
                  campuses has lost its hold over the minds of Americans. The
                  technology of guerrilla warfare has made it evident that,
                  while the state can win battles, it cannot win wars of values.
                  Coercive force which is centered in the modern state cannot be
                  sustained in the face of the active resistance of some 10
                  percent of the population unless the state is willing to
                  embark on a deliberate policy of genocide directed against the
                  value dissident groups. The factor that sustained the myth of
                  coercive force in the past was the acceptance of a common
                  value system. Whether the latter exists is questionable in the
                  modern nation-state." [p.p. 59-60]
                  EROSION OF THE MYTH OF ADMINISTRATORS OF THE COMMONS
                  "Indeed, the process has been so widely commented upon that
                  one writer postulated a common life cycle for all of the
                  attempts to develop regulatory policies. The life cycle is
                  launched by an outcry so widespread and demanding that it
                  generates enough political force to bring about establishment
                  of a regulatory agency to insure the equitable, just, and
                  rational distribution of the advantages among all holders of
                  interest in the commons. This phase is followed by the
                  symbolic reassurance of the offended as the agency goes into
                  operation, developing a period of political quiescence among
                  the great majority of those who hold a general but unorganized
                  interest in the commons. Once this political quiescence has
                  developed, the highly organized and specifically interested
                  groups who wish to make incursions into the commons bring
                  sufficient pressure to bear through other political processes
                  to convert the agency to the protection and furthering of
                  their interests. In the last phase even staffing of the
                  regulating agency is accomplished by drawing the agency
                  administrators from the ranks of the regulated." [p.p. 60-61]

 

[Science,?62(1968):1243-1248 ]