Tragedy of the Commons

The Tragedy of the Commons is a Dilemma that describes the split perception of the Individual and the Group. A person may draw too much from a common good, assuming their draw won't be noticed in such a large group. When all members of the group see themselves as individuals, the common good runs out and consequences occur.

Consider a common kitchen among four housemates. The house has a simple rule: when you use a dish, wash a dish. Each housemate wants to use the dishes, and every once in a while, a roommate finds themselves leaving dirty dishes in the sink. Whether they have an excuse or not, they begin cheating against the rule. As this behavior continues, other housemates do the same thing. Eventually, they are no more dishes. In a house meeting, a new, more authoritative rule and penalty is established.

One of the philosophical functions of government is to enact rules and punishments so that societies can not fall into the Tragedy of the Commons.

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