Effectiveness of Coercive and Voluntary Institutional Solutions to Social Dilemmas

  • Yuval Samid
  • Ramzi Suleiman

In his seminal paper on “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Hardin (1968) analyzes the danger of excessive use of common resources. His discussion deals with common pastures, freedom of the seas, overcrowded national parks, pollution, and excessive population growth. Hardin rules out the appeal to conscience because it is self-eliminating in some cases and pathogenic in most cases. He claims that if the inherent logic of the commons dilemma generates tragedy, then the structure of the dilemma should be changed, and the structural change should introduce some form of coercive measure. For instance, the use of parking meters and traffic fines is required to keep downtown shoppers temperate in their use of parking spaces: “We need not actually forbid a citizen to park as long as he wants to; we need merely make it increasingly expensive for him to do so. Not prohibition, but carefully biased options are what we offer him” (Hardin, 1968, p. 1247). Hardin states that although we may not enjoy coercion, we must recognize that voluntary temperance would favor the conscienceless. The only kind of coercion Hardin recommends is “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people affected” (1968, p. 1247).


Collective Decision Social Dilemma Coercive Power Partial Feedback Full Feedback 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuval Samid
    • 1
  • Ramzi Suleiman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HaifaMount CarmelIsrael

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