Reading Questions Set 2:

Economic and social development of mankind is process that has pro and cons. Poverty, wealth inequality, pollutions, overpopulation etc. are a part of globalization as well as technical innovations, cultural exchange, freedom, donations, investments or information etc. Growing the number of people leads to complicating of social relationships.  There is the tragedy of commons arises. For instance, Garrett Hardin (1968) has stated “As the human population has increased, the commons has had to be abandoned in one aspect after another.” That means when population has increased at some margin point individuals cannon avoid the problems generated by commons but they have to  participate in it creating (for example, pollutions, wealth, etc.). So commons self-destroy because the “correct” goals of people do not bound with conditions it created and consequently with tools and approaches accessible for individuals.

According to Garrett Hardin (1968), different property rights systems can be used for fixing tragedy of commons. The private property can be used for defending resource’s exhaustion and limiting growth of negative sides of commons as well as its combination with juridical principals (legal inheritance) or public property with other tools (auctions, taxation, limits, non-economic approaches etc.). Elinor Ostrom (2007) argued the Hardin’s ideas by demonstrating the advantages of commons: “In light of the exchange of information among localities, harbor organizations have learned of and adopted more effective rules that have then been backed by the state of Maine.” She also emphasized that assumptions of conditions for “tragedy of commons” are too far from reality as well as consequences of specific property right system usage.

Hardin’s system of the herdsmen and the pasture is characterized with individuals-egoists independently acting and making anonymous decisions. A pasture is resource system which is not related to government and resources are in property of herders. A great number of users acting on a pasture and they focus on short-term goals. All these lead to overharvesting and destroying system. Ostrom (2007) noticed that a direct (face-to-face) communication when decisions are being made lets users to achieve socially optimal level of outcome (in our case – the amount of harvest).

The mechanisms that act as incentives for responsibility rise in the society can be considered as specific relationship which settles limits and push people to develop in particular direction. There are a number of social arrangements that can make me responsible as well as other people:

  1. Informal (partially, it is morality. As Fletcher (1966) wrote: “the morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed)”:
  • Family rules (parent’s disappointing, for example);
  • Friend’s and sweetheart’s expectations;
  • Even neighbor’s perception of “correct” behavior.
  1. Formal:
  • Laws;
  • School or university rules;
  • Rules of driving etc.

The main purpose of the SES framework, according to Ostrom, is to build bridge between social and biophysical sciences. Furthermore, it helps to manage policies for adequate and predictable results what is achieved by combining knowledge from different sciences.


  1. Fletcher J. Situation ethics. (1966). Westminster, Philadelphia.
  2. Hardin G. (1968, December 13). The Tragedy of the commons. Science, New Series. Vol. 162, No. 3859, pp. 1243-1248. Retrieved from:
  3. Ostrom E. (2007, September 25). A diagnostic approach for going beyond panaceas. PNAS. vol. 104 _ no. 39. Retrieved from: www.pnas.org_cgi_doi_10.1073_pnas.0702288104
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