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Commons, Tragedy of the

The commons refers to a resource shared by a group that may be an entire society or a smaller unit. A “tragedy of the commons” occurs when each individual takes something out of or puts something into a resource, believing that the benefits derived from doing so outweigh the associated costs. Each person or entity with a right to use the resource does so without regard to the actions of others or the value of the resource, seeking to maximize the benefit derived from the use of the resource, and eventually, the resource is wasted or depleted. The “tragedy” occurs because rights to use the resource are widely assigned or collectively owned, with no one person having the right to exclude the others. In the ...

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