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Thinking like a MallEnvironmental Philosophy after the End of Nature$
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Steven Vogel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029100

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029100.001.0001

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Democracy and the Commons

Democracy and the Commons

(p.199) 7 Democracy and the Commons
Thinking like a Mall

Steven Vogel

The MIT Press

The collective action problem Hardin named the tragedy of the commons is another version of the phenomenon that Marx called alienation. The aggregated effect of the individual actions of myriad private individuals engaging in private transactions produces consequences harmful to all that none of them intend. This is the standard form of environmental problems. The “tragedy” does not arise from the selfishness or greed or stupidity of the individuals involved, but rather from their inability to find a way to decide together as a community what to do. This inability is characteristic of a social order based on market relations. The problem can only be solved by moving from the level of the market to the level of politics, in which decisions are made by a community as a whole, acting self-consciously as a community through discursive democratic processes.

Keywords:   Garrett Hardin, tragedy of the commons, alienation, market, discursive democracy, collective responsibility, capitalism, collective action problems, prisoners’ dilemma

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