Public Choice

, Volume 143, Issue 3–4, pp 275–282 | Cite as

In the woods: darkness at noon or Sunday in the park with Lin?

  • Thráinn Eggertsson


I discuss Elinor (Lin) Ostrom’s long journey into complex social systems and draw attention to her reliance on induction and the methods of experimental science. In her own words, the simple “organism” she has experimented on is a particular type of human situation—the common pool situation. I compare the philosophy of science associated with the European Enlightenment to Lin’s approach. I discuss the implication of problem difficulty and complexity for institutional policy, and conclude by comparing the tragedy of the commons to the tragedy of the anticommons, claiming that little is known empirically about the existence of the latter phenomenon.


Commons Complexity Useful knowledge Induction Institutional policy Intellectual property 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.School of BusinessUniversity of IcelandReykjavíkIceland

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