Sample Philosophy Paper on Tragedy of the Commons
Humankind has the freedom to use natural resources to better their lives. However, there are no measures in place that are meant to protect these resources, given that no law or body in the government that manages these resources. In the quest to achieve the short-term goals, people have failed in this perspective to care for the long-term use of the natural resources. It tends to be ignored that just as any other resource; nonetheless, it has an extension limit that if overlooked, the resources will not be there in the near future.
According to Garrett Hardin, the tragedy of the commons refers to over-exploitation of environmental resources to a point where it is depleted, and recovering becomes impossible (245). He majorly focused on the ratio of human population to the available resources and concluded that the community needs to be controlled (245). The environment has the capacity to rejuvenate and reproduce the resources that have been depleted. Conversely, the rate of rejuvenation is rather slow as compared to the rate of population growth globally. Everybody has his or her own right to use the environmental resources, even though people have failed to see the implications caused by overusing the natural resources. Hardin rejected the fact that improved technology allows indefinite population growth, arguing that the world can only support a limited number of people at a time.
The tragedy of the commons can be related to a prisoner’s dilemma that tries to bring out the human nature in handling situations. People are driven by a rational of self-interest with the aim of maximising their own benefits. In a prisoner’s dilemma, two prisoners in solitary confinement are given a choice of betraying the other to get a reduced sentence. The result is both prisoners pursue personal reward and eventually betray each other, which is used to portray the real world situations. It shows how people behave towards protecting natural resources in a cooperative manner, given that it is for their own good. The focus is on how each individual gains to benefit more without minding future turnouts.
An example of the tragedy of the commons is the earth’s atmosphere, which is a great contributing factor that supports life. The atmosphere plays a great role in ensuring the well-being of every living creature in the land, specifically by preventing excessive solar radiation from reaching the surface. Just as any other resource, it is free for exploitation, and no limit has been set on the range for exploration. However, the release of greenhouse gases from various industries has continuously damaged this valuable resource. People value short-term benefits in terms of cost without minding the threat it poses for humankind. Its impact has become severe and has caught the attention of some international individuals who are advocating for reduced greenhouse gases emission and slowing climate change.
Bookchin approaches the issues of environmental deprivation from a social setting focusing on economic, ethnic, cultural views among others as a point of interest (Martin 118). The article presented by Martin brings out the way people behave with others as social beings with each focusing on personal fulfilment that is later blamed on another phenomenon (118). People are guided by an instinct of over-performing their fellow colleagues, with a notion of proper of or being extinct. Bookchin reveals that changing the human society on how it relates to each other will ultimately transform the relationship between people and nature. In an attempt to outdo each other, people have disregarded the need to conserve nature and focused on more ways to explore the natural resources for self-benefits. This social issue brings out a way of interaction between people. Such passion for prospering ultimately has consequences on the rest of the population that faces the wrath of over-exploitation of natural resources. In an effort to conserve the environment, the social characters of human beings need to be addressed.
There are various conservation solutions for the tragedy of the commons (Cole 360). One such solution involves privatisation of public goods so that people have incentives to protect them. It is human nature to protect that, which they pay for. Privatisation is a step towards achieving proper management and utilisation of public resources. However, the imposition of taxes on public resources is challenging given that there is a determination of a price tag for the value of life. By law, everybody has a chance of utilising these resources but imposing a price tag is challenging.
The free market is another solution for the tragedy of the common by compelling polluters to compensate for their actions. It is a form of polluter-pay-principle where individuals are held responsible for causing environmental harm. As such, an appropriate fee is imposed to litigate the issue and stop environmental damage. It is an excellent idea although people focused more on production and given that the tax is considerably attainable, it may prove impossible to protect the environment over the long run.
The liberal solutions concentrate on the government imposing regulations that will help protect the environment. Various laws in the government protect the environment, and breaking such laws is an offence that is punishable in court. The government can be a changing factor if it sets out to ensure that everyone adheres to such laws. Worldwide, the only challenging situation of imposing a law to protect the environment is there is bound to be rich individuals who time after time bribe their way out of such states.
Protecting the environment is a collaborative effort, with all responsible parties playing a part including the government and the citizens. It should be known that maintaining a stable environmental setting is for the benefit of the current and future generation. The society should set policies that put a limit not to exhaust the environment. One way of addressing this issue is public incentive to protect the environment for the benefits gained from it.
Cole, D. H., Epstein, G., & McGinnis, M. D. “Digging deeper into Hardin’s pasture: The Complex Institutional Structure of ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’.” Journal of Institutional Economics 10.03 (2014): 353-369.
Hardin, G. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 1.3 (2009): 243-253.
Martin, T. “Recovering Bookchin: Social Ecology and the Crises of Our Time.” Anarchist Studies 21.2 (2013): 118.