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Garrett Hardin


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Garrett Hardin (April 21, 1915 - September 14, 2003) was trained as a microbiologist but was an influential ecologist most famous for his 1968 paper "Tragedy of the Commons" which outlined his theory as to why commonly-held resources often degrade.

  • "We can't cure a shortage by increasing the supply." - Garrett Hardin
  • "It is our considered professional judgment that this dilemma has no technical solution." - The Tragedy of the Commons By Garrett Hardin, Science, 1968



Hardin received an undergraduate degree in Zoology from University of Chicago in 1936 and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Stanford University in 1941. He then went to work at the Carnegie Institute of Washington from 1942-1946 prior to taking a position at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he stayed on as professor until 1978. He was a visiting professor at numerous schools and was a recipient of a plethora of awards (#Garrett Hardin Society).

Hardin and his wife were members of the Hemlock Society which advocated for its members to choose their own time to die. Both he and his wife were not in good health and they committed suicide by drinking Hemlock in 2003. He was 88 and she was 81. They had been married just over 62 years.


Journal Articles

  • Hardin, G. (1968). "The Tragedy of the Commons." Science 162, 1243-1248.
  • Hardin, G. (1971). "Population, biology and law." Journal of Urban Law 48, 563-578.
  • Hardin, G. (1974). "Lifeboat Ethics: the Case Against Helping the Poor." Psychology Today, 8, 38-43.
  • Hardin, G. (1976). "Living with Faustian Bargain." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 32, 25-29.
  • Hardin, G. (1980). "Ecology and the death of Providence." Zygon 15, 57-68.
  • Hardin, G. (1982). "Discriminating altruisms." Zygon 17, 163-186.
  • Hardin, G. (1983). "Is violence natural?" Zygon 18, 405-413.
  • Hardin, G. (1985). "Human-ecology - the subversive, conservative science." American Zoologist 25, 469-476.
  • Hardin, G. (1986). "Cultural carrying-capacity - a biological approach to human problems." Bioscience 36, 599-606.
  • Hardin, G. (1994). "The Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons." Trends in Ecology & Evolution 9, 199-199.
  • Hardin, G. (1998). "Extensions of 'The Tragedy of the Commons'." Science 280, 682-683.


Nature and Man's Fate (1965) New American Library. ISBN 0-451-61170-5
Exploring new ethics for survival: the voyage of the spaceship Beagle (1972) Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-30268-6
Promethean Ethics: Living With Death, Competition, and Triage (1980) University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-95717-4
Naked Emperors: Essays of a Taboo-Stalker (1982) William Kaufmann, Inc. ISBN 0-86576-032-2
Filters Against Folly, How to Survive despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent (1985) Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-80410-X
Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos (1993) Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509385-2
The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (1999) Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512274-7
+The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (1999), a warning about the threat of overpopulation to the Earth's sustainable economic future, called for coercive constraints on "unqualified reproductive rights" and argued that affirmative action is a form of racism.



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