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Sustainability 2012, 4(11), 3141-3150; doi:10.3390/su4113141

The Tragedy of the “Tragedy of the Commons”: Why Coining Too Good a Phrase Can Be Dangerous

Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia, 1822 East Mall, Vancouver, V6T 1Z1, Canada
Fisheries Centre, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 August 2012 / Revised: 30 October 2012 / Accepted: 13 November 2012 / Published: 15 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tragedy or Transcendence: Reflections on 'The Tragedy of the Commons')
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A deep reading of Hardin (1968) reveals that he had a lot more to say about the use and regulation of resources such as fisheries than he is given credit for in the literature. It appears that he is typically cited just so that authors can use the phrase “tragedy of the commons” to invoke the specter of looming catastrophe and then tie that to whatever solution they have proposed. We argue in this contribution that there is a lot more in Hardin’s essay that either contradicts or greatly complicates the arguments he is cited as an authority for.
Keywords: tragedy of the commons; fisheries economics; individual transferable quotas tragedy of the commons; fisheries economics; individual transferable quotas
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Hawkshaw, R.S.; Hawkshaw, S.; Sumaila, U.R. The Tragedy of the “Tragedy of the Commons”: Why Coining Too Good a Phrase Can Be Dangerous. Sustainability 2012, 4, 3141-3150.

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