PSCI 3064 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Quid Pro Quo, Reproductive Rights

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Lecture #5 (4/4)
Spaceship or Lifeboat? The power of metaphors
o Spaceship Earth: no unlimited resource reservoirs, closed spaceship.
Kenneth E. Boulding, The Economics of Coming Spaceship Earth
o Lifeboat: each rich nation = rich lifeboats, poor nations in crowded
and less safe/beneficial lifeboats. Garret Hardin, Living on a Lifeboat
Tragedy of the Commons
o Commons = communal area/resources
o Rational self interest individuals maximizing own profits, increase
own PERSONAL benefit, but negative impact is felt by ALL who share
the commons
o Process repeated on all different resources, leading to degradation of
the commons
o Ruin is the destination towards which all men rush, each pursuing his
own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the
commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all. Hardin,
Tragedy of the Commons
+B/1 = benefit (to one)
--C/n = cost (to all)
o Prescription: avoiding the tragedy
Cannot rely on appeals to conscience (is self-estimating)
Some people will be receptive
Some won’t, will end up running consciousness out of
the gene pool
Responsibility is a verbal counterfeit for a substantial
quid pro quo. It is an attempt to get something for
nothing...are we not trying to browbeat a free man in a
commons into acting against his own interest?
On altruism: reciprocity norms: assumption is that all people
are self-interest maximizers
A collective action dilemma following individual rationality
conflicts with collective rationality
Prescription: regulation/privatization
o Sell commons off as private property or allocate
rights to enter (permits)
o How to allocate? Merit? Wealth? First come first
o Must limit access
o (Remember: the essay is specifically about
population, so the commons is reproductive
Regulation of access: mutual coercion, mutually agreed
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