"The Tragedy of the Commons," and Beyond

On 13 December 1968, the late Garrett Hardin published an essay in Science that was destined to become one of the journal's most requested articles in the subsequent 35 years. Below, we feature links to the original essay, and some of the scientific dialogue that Hardin's controversial ideas have spurred, as played out in the pages of Science. (Additional information on Hardin and his work can be found at the Web site of the Garrett Hardin Society.)

[Note: The PDF files in the following sections, which we are making available to all users, are from the Science Magazine archive developed by JSTOR, and are posted here by agreement with JSTOR.]
The Original Essay and Some Responses
The Tragedy of the Commons
Garrett Hardin
Science162, 1243-1248 (1968)
[Abstract][Full text][PDF] (2.0 MB)
Letters: Freedom to Breed
Jordan D. Lewis; Robert E. Drury; Steven Polgar; Robert H. Good
Science163, 518-519 (1969)
[PDF] (0.8 MB)
The Tragedy of the Commons Revisited
Beryl L. Crowe
Science166, 1103-1107 (1969)
[PDF] (1.4 MB)
Extensions of "The Tragedy of the Commons"
Garrett Hardin
Science280, 682-683 (1998)
[Summary][Full text]
Revisiting the Commons: Local Lessons, Global Challenges
Elinor Ostrom et al.
Science284, 278-282 (1999)
[Abstract][Full text]
"Tragedy of the Commons" Author Dies
Constance Holden
Science302, 32 (2003)
[Summary][Full text]
Also in Science by Garrett Hardin
Editorial: Parenthood: Right or Privilege?
Garrett Hardin
Science169, 427 (1970)
[PDF] (0.3 MB)
Letters: Choices of Parenthood
Moni Nag; George D. Webb; Jan Berkhout; Patrick Butler, Jr.; Wolfgang Jochile; Robert McClenon; Charles S. Rebert; Darrell J. Weber; Garrett Hardin
Science163, 257-262 (1970)
[PDF] (2.6 MB)
Editorial: Nobody Ever Dies of Overpopulation
Garrett Hardin
Science171, 527 (1971)
[PDF] (0.2 MB)
Editorial: The Survival of Nations and Civilizations
Garrett Hardin
Science172, 1297 (1971)
[PDF] (0.2 MB)
Editorial: A Humane Approach to Population Problems
[Comment on "The Survival of Nations and Civilizations"]
Mina Rees
Science173, 381 (1971)
[PDF] (0.2 MB)
Letters: Trustees of Civilizations
[Letters on "The Survival of Nations and Civilizations"]
Albert Paolino; Mott D. Cannon; Paul J. Stamler; Karl Sax; Gerald Audesirk; Garrett Hardin
Science174, 1077-1078 (1971)
[PDF] (0.5 MB)
Book Review: Inconvenient Alternatives
[Review of Hardin's Exploring the New Ethics for Survival]
G. M. Woodwell
Science178, 1191-1192 (1972)
[PDF] (0.5 MB)
Feeding the World's Poor
[Letters on Hardin's "lifeboat ethics" concept]
Malcolm C. Whatley; J. D. Martin; D. N. Byrne; J. L. Moore; J. M. Gillispie; J. K. Wangberg; F. A. Cotton; Roger Revelle
Science187, 1026-1032 (1975)
[PDF] (1.7 MB)
Editorial: Will Xerox Kill Gutenberg?
Garrett Hardin
Science198, 883 (1977)
[PDF] (0.2 MB)
Letters: Will Gutenberg Survive?
John L. Gueriguian; Loring Ingraham; Tad E. Reynales; William T. Knox; Eric R. Pianka; M. B. Kirkham; Garrett Hardin
Science199, 122-125 (1978)
[PDF] (1.4 MB)
The Commons as Scientific Metaphor
In addition to spurring discussion in the realm of population studies and the environment, Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons" essay served up a powerful metaphor for a variety of situations at the nexus of science and society, in realms ranging from biomedicine to university administration to the Internet. Here is a small sample of Science research papers and policy articles during the past several years that have taken the notion of the commons as their jumping-off point.
Social Dilemmas and Internet Congestion
Bernardo A. Huberman and Rajan M. Lukose
Science277, 535-537 (1997)
[Abstract][Full text]
Can Patents Deter Innovation? The Anticommons in Biomedical Research
Michael A. Heller and Rebecca S. Eisenberg
Science280, 698-701 (1998)
[Abstract][Full text]
State Policy and Pasture Degradation in Inner Asia
David Sneath
Science281, 1147-1148 (1998)
[Summary][Full text]
Cooperation Through Image Scoring in Humans
Claus Wedekind and Manfred Milinski
Science288, 850-852 (2000)
[Abstract][Full text]
Privatizing the University--the New Tragedy of the Commons
James Robert Brown
Science290, 1701-1702 (2000)
[Summary][Full text]
Volunteering as Red Queen Mechanism for Cooperation in Public Goods Games
Christoph Hauert et al.
Science296, 1129-1132 (2002)
[Abstract][Full text]

Selected Other Web Resources

In the following sections, we offer a small selection of links to Internet resources bearing on the themes of this special issue.
Common Pool Resources, Sustainability, and Law
The Drama of the Commons (2002)
Recent book from the National Resource Council's Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change reviews work in recent decades on human-environment interactions, and explores the challenges in devising workable systems for managing shared resources.
Our Common Journey (1999)
Another NRC volume (from the Council's Policy Division), this book analyzes possible future development pathways and their implications for sustainability.
International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP)
Indiana University-based organization focusing on "understanding and improving institutions for the management of environmental resources that are (or could be) held or used collectively."
Virtual Library of Common Property and Common Pool Resources,
Collection of bibliographies, papers, full-text resources, and other links, from the IASCP.
The Digital Library of the Commons
Nicely arranged, searchable library of full-text resources on commons research, from the IASCP.
AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment
Free online version of comprehensive reference on geographic relationships between population and environment.
Millennium Development Goals
Series of targets developed to implement the United Nations Millennium Declaration; site includes a node on ensuring environmental sustainability, one of the MDGs.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Another U.N. effort, with the goal of "strengthening capacity to manage ecosystems sustainably for human well-being."
Human Development Reports
Extremely useful database of reports on worldwide development from the U.N. Development Programme.
Comprehensive source of information on global environmental law. A joint project of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Conservation Union, and the U.N. Environment Programme.
World Conservation Union Enivonmental Law Programme
Inclues a wealth of information on global environmental conventions, laws, and related developments.
Other Links on Population, Environment, and Sustainability
Links to additional Web sites and articles related to environmental resources and their management can be found in the Web resources pages associated with the eight special Viewpoint articles in Science's "State of the Planet" series (14 November to 5 December issues). Follow the links below for Web resources on: