The Tragedy Of The Commons Analysis

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In the article “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Hardin focuses on the problem of increasing population growth which he relates to a “tragedy of the commons.” His definition of the “tragedy of the commons” is when there is a resource that is shared with many people having access to it, people, who are generally self-interested and rational, will choose to maximize their profit because they will receive all of the benefit while not having to bear the full cost. Hardin gives an example with the analogy of a herdsman who seeks to maximize his gain by adding one more sheep to the common grazing land. The herdsman would receive all of the profits that are connected with the additional sheep and not have to bear the full cost of overgrazing the land. …show more content…
One of Hardin’s main reasons is that were it not for the welfare state, there might not be the problem of overpopulation due to limitations of nature, i.e. limited food supply, survival of the fittest. Hardin’s argument is that the welfare state protects people from bearing the full cost of having too many children. There is a fallacy in his assumption, however, as he fails to discern the difference between the socio-economic need for children and rational reproductive behavior. In developed countries, it is not always more rational to have as many children because costs for taking care of children are high. In developing countries, on the other hand, where infant mortality rates are high, there is a socio-economic need for parents to have more children. Due to the natural mechanism of high mortality rates, parents are actually more inclined to produce more children, which contrasts Hardin’s argument that a natural mechanism would solve the population problem. In actuality, the welfare state may be used in helping to solve the population problem. Because families are likely to reproduce more in parts of the world with high infant mortality rates, the welfare state, along with higher child survival rates, may allow parents to have fewer children and provide the security they need to be cared for and not rely on having a lot of children to care for them. With the security provided for them by the welfare state families no longer have a need to over breed. Hardin argues that the only solution to the overpopulation problem is to recognize that breeding is not a freedom or right and that there should be government intervention to solve the problem. However, as evidenced from China’s “one-child policy”, government intervention in limiting the freedom to reproduce may have unintended consequences and cause more harm than good. With the “one-child policy,” China has

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