il y aura de grands tremblements de terre, et, en divers lieux, des pestes et des famines; il y aura des phénomènes terribles, et de grands signes dans le ciel. (…) Il y aura des signes dans le soleil, dans la lune et dans les étoiles. Et sur la terre, il y aura de l’angoisse chez les nations qui ne sauront que faire, au bruit de la mer et des flots. Jésus (Luc 21: 10-25)
Comment avons-nous pu vider la mer? (…) Quelles solennités expiatoires, quels jeux sacrés nous faudra-t-il inventer? Nietzsche
Ce sont les enjeux ! Pour faire un monde où chaque enfant de Dieu puisse vivre, ou entrer dans l’obscurité, nous devons soit nous aimer l’un l’autre, soit mourir. Lyndon Johnson (1964)
Dans « Je t’aime moi non plus » , la phrase importante est « L’amour physique est sans issue » C’est une phrase que je trouve très morale . « Je t »aime » , dit la fille dans un élan de passion et le garçon qui est beaucoup plus rigoureux dit , ne le croyant pas : » moi non plus » . Parce que l’amour physique ne suffisant point aux passions, il faut s’en référer a d’autres arguments. C’est la chanson la plus morale que j’ai jamais écrite. Serge Gainsbourg
Rive Gauche à Paris … Elle va mourir quoi qu’on en dise … On dirait Jane et Serge sur le pont des Arts … Alain Souchon (2003)
Il y a le Paris de Paramount et le Paris de la MGM, et bien sûr le vrai Paris. Celui de Paramount est le plus parisien de tous. Ernst Lubitsch
Ce point du monde où l’on embrasse à la fois (…) l’Institut, le Louvre, la Cité et les quais aux bouquins, les Tuileries, la butte latine jusqu’au Panthéon, la Seine jusqu’à la Concorde. Vercors
Je suis sur le pont des Arts à Paris. D’un côté de la Seine on voit la façade harmonieuse et sobre de l’Institut, bâti vers 1670 pour être un collège. Sur l’autre rive, le Louvre, construit depuis le Moyen Âge jusqu’au dix-neuvième siècle : un sommet de l’architecture classique, splendide et équilibré. En amont on voit le haut de Notre-Dame qui n’est peut-être pas la cathédrale la plus attirante, mais sûrement la façade la plus rigoureusement intellectuelle de tout l’art gothique. Les maisons qui longent les quais du fleuve montrent aussi de façon rationnelle et humaine ce que devrait être l’architecture des villes. En face de ces maisons, sous les arbres, s’alignent les boîtes des bouquinistes où des générations d’amateurs ont donné libre cours à ce passe-temps d’homme cultivé : collectionner les livres. Depuis cent cinquante ans, les élèves des Beaux-Arts passent sur ce pont pour aller étudier les chefs-d’œuvres du Louvre ; de retour dans leurs ateliers, ils discutent et rêvent de faire quelque chose qui soit digne de la grande tradition. Et sur ce pont, depuis Henry James, combien de pèlerins venus d’Amérique se sont-ils arrêtés pour respirer le parfum d’une culture aux racines lointaines, conscients de se sentir au centre même de la civilisation. Kenneth Clark (1969)
Behind this, one can glimpse a concept of Kyoto as not a public space, but simply a vast collection of private places. Given this attitude, the Pont des Arts cas was an ideal target since the bridge stood on everyone’s land or – spanning a river – on no land at all. Christoph Brumann (University of Cologne)
De nombreuses explications pour l’origine de cette coutume existent. En Europe de l’ouest, les cadenas apparaissent dans les années 2000. À Rome, la mode des cadenas sur le Pont Milvius a été décrite en 1992 par l’écrivain Federico Moccia dans son roman Trois mètres au-dessus du ciel, devenu très populaire en 2004 et adapté au cinéma la même année. La mode apparaît clairement à partir de la sortie de la suite du roman, Ho voglia di te, et de son adaptation au cinéma, tous deux en 2006. Pour certains, les cadenas d’amour remontent aux années 1980 : à Pécs en Hongrie, sur une grille en fer forgé reliant la mosquée et la cathédrale. Une autre hypothèse en ferait une tradition plus ancienne provenant de Cologne, en Allemagne, où des cadenas sont accrochés à la grille du pont Hohenzollern près de la gare, les amoureux jetant la clef du cadenas dans le Rhin enjambé par le pont. En Serbie, cette tradition existe sur le pont Most Ljubavi depuis la Première Guerre mondiale. Elle est restée peu connue jusqu’à sa description dans le poème Molitva za ljubav (prière pour l’amour) de la célèbre poétesse serbe Desanka Maksimovic pendant la deuxième moitié du XXe siècle. Wikipedia
It is a precise sign of our times – there is a lack of dreaming in Italy. We only hear bad news. There is no longer the smile of who we see from afar or near the dream. And that gesture of the lock on the bridge, of the feeling of the iron closing, it’s a promise. It’s beautiful. Federico Moccia
Love, in all its splendor and mess, found a fit expression on Rome’s oldest bridge last year. Inspired by a best-selling book, then the movie version, young couples wrote their names on a padlock. They chained it around a lamppost on Ponte Milvio. Then they symbolically cut off escape by tossing the key into the wine-dark Tiber below. But reality quickly set in, as it often does after passion. Thousands of locks and chains piled up. The lamps atop two lightposts crumbled under the weight. Neighbors complained of vandalism. Politicians who tried to solve the problem were accused – and this is bad in Italy – of being anti-love. Late last month, a solution was finally put into place. City officials created official spots for the locks – six sets of steel posts with chains on the bridge – so now lovers can declare themselves without damage to the infrastructure. And so this city of monuments has just created another one, if at a cost: Tossing a key off Ponte Milvio, some Italians complain, may soon be as touristy and routine as flipping a coin into the Trevi Fountain. (…) But still, as Rome’s distinctly lovely light faded into evening, they did it. And in the few days since the new posts and chains went up, dozens of new love locks have been sealed shut on Ponte Milvio, in a perfect world, forever (though in practice, the city will periodically prune the locks just as they sweep the coins from the Trevi Fountain). The story of how Ponte Milvio, at the north of Rome’s center, became the city’s symbol of love follows a particularly Italian script, a perfectly balanced mix of history, myth, truly ludicrous political posturing and the unexpected. First built in 206 B.C., the bridge attracted lovers long ago: Tacitus, the first century Roman historian and statesman, reported that even in his time it was « famous for its nocturnal attractions. » The Emperor Nero, Tacitus said, visited there « for his debaucheries. » (It is also the place where in 312, Constantine defeated his rival Maxentius. He became the first emperor to convert to Christianity, which to many Italians still stands against the sort of love often found on Ponte Milvio.) Last year, a novelist and screen writer, Federico Moccia, wrote the second installment of a story of young Romans called, in English, « I Want You. » Like many affairs, his hero’s starts with a lie: He convinces a potential girlfriend of an invented legend, in which lovers wrap a chain around the third lamppost on the bridge’s northern side, lock it and throw the key into the Tiber. « And then? » the girl asks. « We’ll never leave each other, » he says, with no shame. Moccia, 44, says he just dreamed up the ritual. « I liked the idea of tying locks to love because it is more solid, tangible, » he said. The book sold 1.1 million copies, the movie version came out – and soon life began imitating art. Moccia said he was stunned when locks and chains appeared on the bridge, though he tied the craze to a lingering malaise in Italy, which is growing old, producing fewer babies, suffering from an economy that often keeps young people unemployed and at home with their parents into their 30s. (…) Soon beauty turned to menace. Lovers came from all over Italy, joined by some tourists. The ancient bridge, which also attracts not only lovers but drinkers and no small number of pot smokers, began to be covered in lovers’ graffiti, along with the overwhelming number of chains. (…) They complain that it has become just another tourist attraction, complete with two vendors selling locks on the spot for €5, or $6.90, €3 or €1 for the smallest. Families pose for cell-phone photos there. NYT
L’avenir de la biodiversité pour les dix prochains millions d’années sera certainement déterminé dans les cinquante à cent ans à venir par l’activité d’une seule espèce, Homo sapiens, vieille de seulement 200 000 ans. Paul Ehrlich et Robert Pringle
We have on the one side Ukraine, whose situation is not improving; in Israel and Palestine things are getting worse; the disaster the Americans left in Iraq, the atrocities of Islamic state and the problem of Syria. There is war everywhere; we run the risk of committing the same mistakes as before; so without realising it we can get into a world war as if we were sleepwalking. (…) As the years went by I realised that we have the possibility to autodestruct, something that did not exist before: it was said that Nature caused famine, droughts, the responsibility lay elsewhere. For the first time we are responsible, we have the possibility and the capacity to auto-destroy ourselves and we don’t do anything to eliminate this danger. All of this together makes me realise that things are finite, that we don’t have an indefinite amount of time. If we take into account the existence of our planet, we have to recognise that we are guests that spend a short and very determined period in this world and all we leave behind is nuclear waste. Gunter Grass
Les événements qui se déroulent sous nos yeux sont à la fois naturels et culturels, c’est-à-dire qu’ils sont apocalyptiques. Jusqu’à présent, les textes de l’Apocalypse faisaient rire. Tout l’effort de la pensée moderne a été de séparer le culturel du naturel. La science consiste à montrer que les phénomènes culturels ne sont pas naturels et qu’on se trompe forcément si on mélange les tremblements de terre et les rumeurs de guerre, comme le fait le texte de l’Apocalypse. Mais, tout à coup, la science prend conscience que les activités de l’homme sont en train de détruire la nature. C’est la science qui revient à l’Apocalypse. René Girard
Oui, pour moi l’Apocalypse c’est la fin de l’histoire. (…) L’Apocalypse, c’est l’arrivée du royaume de Dieu. Mais on peut penser qu’il y a des « petites ou des demi-apocalypses » ou des crises c’est-à-dire des périodes intermédiaires… (…) Il faut prendre très au sérieux les textes apocalyptiques. Nous ne savons pas si nous sommes à la fin du monde, mais nous sommes dans une période-charnière. Je pense que toutes les grandes expériences chrétiennes des époques-charnières sont inévitablement apocalyptiques dans la mesure où elles rencontrent l’incompréhension des hommes et le fait que cette incompréhension d’une certaine manière est toujours fatale. Je dis qu’elle est toujours fatale, mais en même temps elle ne l’est jamais parce que Dieu reprend toujours les choses et toujours pardonne. (…) Nous sommes encore proches de cette période des grandes expositions internationales qui regardait de façon utopique la mondialisation comme l’Exposition de Londres – la « Fameuse » dont parle Dostoievski, les expositions de Paris… Plus on s’approche de la vraie mondialisation plus on s’aperçoit que la non-différence ce n’est pas du tout la paix parmi les hommes mais ce peut être la rivalité mimétique la plus extravagante. On était encore dans cette idée selon laquelle on vivait dans le même monde : on n’est plus séparé par rien de ce qui séparait les hommes auparavant donc c’est forcément le paradis. Ce que voulait la Révolution française. Après la nuit du 4 août, plus de problème ! René Girard
Le phénomène est déjà fabuleux en soi. Imaginez un peu : il suffit que vous me regardiez faire une série de gestes simples – remplir un verre d’eau, le porter à mes lèvres, boire -, pour que dans votre cerveau les mêmes zones s’allument, de la même façon que dans mon cerveau à moi, qui accomplis réellement l’action. C’est d’une importance fondamentale pour la psychologie. D’abord, cela rend compte du fait que vous m’avez identifié comme un être humain : si un bras de levier mécanique avait soulevé le verre, votre cerveau n’aurait pas bougé. Il a reflété ce que j’étais en train de faire uniquement parce que je suis humain. Ensuite, cela explique l’empathie. Comme vous comprenez ce que je fais, vous pouvez entrer en empathie avec moi. Vous vous dites : « S’il se sert de l’eau et qu’il boit, c’est qu’il a soif. » Vous comprenez mon intention, donc mon désir. Plus encore : que vous le vouliez ou pas, votre cerveau se met en état de vous faire faire la même chose, de vous donner la même envie. Si je baille, il est très probable que vos neurones miroir vont vous faire bailler – parce que ça n’entraîne aucune conséquence – et que vous allez rire avec moi si je ris, parce que l’empathie va vous y pousser. Cette disposition du cerveau à imiter ce qu’il voit faire explique ainsi l’apprentissage. Mais aussi… la rivalité. Car si ce qu’il voit faire consiste à s’approprier un objet, il souhaite immédiatement faire la même chose, et donc, il devient rival de celui qui s’est approprié l’objet avant lui ! (…) C’est la vérification expérimentale de la théorie du « désir mimétique » de René Girard ! Voilà une théorie basée au départ sur l’analyse de grands textes romanesques, émise par un chercheur en littérature comparée, qui trouve une confirmation neuroscientifique parfaitement objective, du vivant même de celui qui l’a conçue. Un cas unique dans l’histoire des sciences ! (…) Notre désir est toujours mimétique, c’est-à-dire inspiré par, ou copié sur, le désir de l’autre. L’autre me désigne l’objet de mon désir, il devient donc à la fois mon modèle et mon rival. De cette rivalité naît la violence, évacuée collectivement dans le sacré, par le biais de la victime émissaire. (…) On comprend que la théorie du désir mimétique ait suscité de nombreux détracteurs : difficile d’accepter que notre désir ne soit pas original, mais copié sur celui d’un autre. Pr Jean-Michel Oughourlian
Les neurones miroirs sont des neurones qui s’activent, non seulement lorsqu’un individu exécute lui-même une action, mais aussi lorsqu’il regarde un congénère exécuter la même action. On peut dire en quelque sorte que les neurones dans le cerveau de celui/celle qui observe imitent les neurones de la personne observée; de là le qualitatif ‘miroir’ (mirror neurons). C’est un groupe de neurologues italiens, sous la direction de Giacomo Rizzolati (1996), qui a fait cette découverte sur des macaques. Les chercheurs ont remarqué – par hasard – que des neurones (dans la zone F5 du cortex prémoteur) qui étaient activés quand un singe effectuait un mouvement avec but précis (par exemple: saisir un objet) étaient aussi activés quand le même singe observait simplement ce mouvement chez un autre singe ou chez le chercheur, qui donnait l’exemple. Il existe donc dans le cerveau des primates un lien direct entre action et observation. Cette découverte s’est faite d’abord chez des singes, mais l’existence et l’importance des neurones miroirs pour les humains a été confirmée. Dans une recherche toute récente supervisé par Hugo Théoret (Université de Montréal), Shirley Fecteau a montré que le mécanisme des neurones miroirs est actif dans le cerveau immature des petits enfants et que les réseaux de neurones miroirs continuent de se développer dans les stades ultérieurs de l’enfance. Il faut ajouter ici que les savants s’accordent pour dire que ces réseaux sont non seulement plus développés chez les adultes (comparé aux enfants), mais qu’ils sont considérablement plus évolués chez les hommes en général comparé aux autres primates. Simon De Keukelaere
Revenons pour ce faire à notre précédent exemple du cri chez le bébé et observons tout d’abord que sa persistance dans le temps aura d’autant plus de chance de se produire que d’autres bébés se trouveront à proximité. C’est le phénomène bien connu de contagion du cri qui s’observe régulièrement lorsque plusieurs bébés sont rassemblés dans un même espace : pouponnière, crèche, etc. Dans un tel cadre, la hantise des soignants ou des éducateurs est que par ses cris, un bébé mette en émoi tout le groupe car le concert de cris peut alors durer de longues heures avant que la fatigue ne reprenne le dessus et permette un retour au calme toujours précaire. Remarquons que la hantise des responsables de ces tout petits hommes est exactement la même que celle de nos responsables politiques. Depuis la Révolution, ceux-ci ont bien compris que leur pire ennemi étaient les foules humaines solidarisées (prises en masse) dans un même élan acquis par imitation réciproque. Au XIXe siècle, les premières psychologies sociales (cf. Tarde, Le Bon, Sighele, Baldwin, etc.) répondent avant tout au besoin de comprendre (et de contrôler) ces « foules délinquantes » qui renversent l’ordre établi et font les révolutions. Toutes vont converger vers cet aspect fondamental de la psyché humaine qu’est l’imitation. Au XXe siècle, les mouvements fascistes en tireront d’ailleurs de très puissantes stratégies de manipulation des masses. (…) Tels des bébés qui, portés par l’imitation réciproque, se solidarisent dans un cri unanime et se canalisent donc les uns les autres vers une même activité à laquelle ils s’adonnent avec frénésie, de tout leur être, nous sommes dans quasiment tous les aspects de nos vies des êtres soumis aux normes des groupes et des communautés auxquels nous pensons appartenir, en particulier, celles de la société occidentale individualiste qui nous formate à l’idée que nous sommes des êtres rationnels, indépendants, autonomes, doués de libre-arbitre et donc rebelles à toutes les formes d’influence sociale. (…) Les meilleurs amis du monde sont souvent ceux qui, au travers d’un progressif « accordage » de leurs représentations, de leurs goûts et de leurs affects en viennent à être des « alter ego » l’un pour l’autre. Bien sûr, aucun ne cessera de voir ce qui le différencie de l’autre, mais leur proximité, et plus exactement leur similitude sur un grand nombre de points n’échappera pas à l’observateur extérieur. Cette logique d’accrochage automatique des cycles de l’habitude permet de comprendre l’omniprésence des phénomènes du genre il bâille, je bâille, il tousse, je tousse, il boit, j’ai soif, il mange, ça me donne faim, il regarde ici ou là, je regarde ici et là, il a peur, j’angoisse, il est serein, je suis rassuré, etc. (…) Que les choses soient claires : la soumission aux normes n’est jamais qu’un panurgisme, une imitation de la dynamique du troupeau auquel nous pensons appartenir. Manipulations et propagandes n’existent que parce que nous sommes toujours-déjà portés à l’imitation et au suivisme. Luc-Laurent Salvador
The population problem has no technical solution; it requires a fundamental extension in morality. (…) Rational behavior at the individual level leads to tragic consequences for the community as a whole. Garrett Hardin
Mimétisme, quand tu nous tiens …
Prolifération de cadenas, grillages déchirés, plaques de contre-plaqué, plaques de plexiglass, taguages, risques de chute sur les bateaux-mouches en dessous …
Semble prêt, pour couronner la dernière année de son mandat, à mettre le feu nucléaire partout …
Et un an après la rumeur suite au remplacement d’une de ses grilles …
Du risque d’effondrement d’un des fleurons du Paris romantique …
Sous le poids des cadenas censés sceller l’union de toujours plus d’amoureux du monde (700 000 pour l’ensemble des ponts parisiens et quelque 93 tonnes pour le seul Pont des arts en à peine six ans !) …
Inspirés, comme il se doit, du Pont Milvio de Rome des héros d’un roman et film italiens …
Comment ne pas voir …
Qu’est en train de prendre, amour compris, la moindre de nos conduites ?
Mais aussi derrière cette illustration de ce que pionnier de l’écologie moderne …
Où, faute d’une « extension fondamentale de la moralité » (mot codé pour l’Evangile ?) …
L’intérêt individuel de chacun peut à chaque instant et fatalement …
Mettre en danger, jusqu’à la planète elle-même, le bien de tous et de chacun ?
Le pont des Arts en triste état: cadenas cachés, contre-plaqué et plexiglas tagués
Archéologie du futur/archéologie du présent
26 décembre 2014
Une tragédie des biens communs?
Quelques cadenas d’amour sur le Pont des Arts, c’est charmant, beaucoup de cadenas, c’est pas mal mais une colonisation totale du pont, c’est trop. Le poids des cadenas décolle les grilles qui risquent de tomber sur les bateaux. La mairie de Paris a réagi en enlevant des grilles surchargées et en les remplaçant. Tel le tonneau des Danaïdes, le pont se couvre de nouveau lovelocks. Des plaques de contreplaqué posées sur les cadenas empêchent d’en accrocher de nouveau. Peine perdue, il y a toujours un bout de grillage qui dépasse.
La mairie a alors remplacé les grilles par du plexiglas: le plexiglas se couvre de tags et de gribouillis. Actuellement le pont a perdu tout son charme. D’affreuses plaques barbouillés de tags recouvrent les rambardes. On se croirait sur un site abandonné, voué à la destruction où les tagueurs viennent s’exercer loin des regards. Loin des regards? Non. Le pont des Arts est un site touristique très fréquenté, considéré comme romantique par les amoureux poseurs de cadenas qui, par leur nombre, détruisent ce qu’ils aiment.
La destruction esthétique du Pont des Arts pourrait être une illustration de la Tragédie des biens communs: Quand une ressource est accessible à tous, ici l’espace et la vue, elle est vite surexploitée. L’intérêt individuel (moi je veux accrocher mon cadenas) multiplié par des centaines d’amoureux met en danger le bien de tous.
La tragédie des biens communs s’applique plus aux ressources naturelles (pâture, océan) dans un éco-système limité mais ici nous avons un espace limité en libre-accès et un nombre toujours croissant d’utilisateurs.
En ce mois de décembre 2014, le Pont des Arts, en plein centre de Paris, a le charme d’un terrain vague bordé de palissades couvertes de tags peu inspirés. Quelle solution va trouver la Mairie de Paris pour arrêter ce désastre visuel?
Comment dissuader des amoureux venus spécialement pour accrocher leur cadenas et jeter la clé dans la Seine de ne pas le faire. Depuis 2008, ce rite magique s’est répandu sur tous les ponts de Paris et dans beaucoup de capitales à travers le monde. Un tag aujourd’hui disparu disait: « Make love, not lovelocks ». Une bonne idée mais faire l’amour sur le pont au mois de décembre, c’est un peu frisquet. Et la police interviendrait.
La Mairie conseille aux amoureux de faire des selfies devant le pont mais ça ne leur suffit pas. De toute façon le pont est devenu très laid alors des selfies devant du contre-plaqué! Il n’y a de la place que sur les grilles des rampes d’accès au pont. Déjà envahie de cadenas d’amour, elles ne tiendront pas longtemps.
Quant aux vendeurs de cadenas installés sur le pont depuis deux trois ans, ils font grise mine. Encore un petit métier qui se perd. Certains se reconvertissent en vendeurs de marker pour griffonner le bois.
14 avril 2014
RÉCIT Le remplacement d’une des grilles de l’édifice a fait naître la rumeur. Les «love locks» qui ont envahi le pont ne sont pas sans poser de problèmes.
La rumeur voudrait que le pont des Arts, trait d’union de bois et de métal entre les Ier et VIe arrondissements de Paris, risque de s’écrouler sous le poids de l’amour. Ou, en d’autres termes, moins poétiques, sous celui des cadenas qui le symbolisent et que les couples accrochent aux rambardes. D’où l’émotion sur les réseaux sociaux suscitée par le retrait d’une des grilles du célèbre pont, jeudi 10 avril.
Une photo du remplacement d’une balustrade aura suffi pour que l’hypothèse d’un retrait de tous les «love locks» du pont des Arts circule sur Twitter.
Rumeur aussitôt démentie par la pose d’un nouveau grillage − déjà assailli par de nouveaux cadenas − ainsi que par la mairie : «A l’heure actuelle, le pont des Arts ne risque pas de s’écrouler. Ce risque ne concerne que les balustrades qui l’entourent.» Chaque grillage mesure environ deux mètres de long. Celui que la mairie a fait retirer la semaine dernière pesait 520 kg.
Mais la balustrade a bel et bien disparu. Et les cadenas avec. Selon la mairie, il s’agit simplement d’un entretien régulier et obligatoire du pont, dont les grilles se déchirent sous le poids des cadenas. «C’est quelque chose qu’on fait tous les ans, explique un employé de la mairie. On vérifie régulièrement que le grillage ne s’arrache pas, ce qui est dangereux pour les yeux des enfants. Cette année, on a déjà remplacé trois ou quatre balustrades.» Au total, 700 000 cadenas auraient envahi les ponts de Paris en seulement six ans. Sur le pont des Arts, leur poids serait de quarante tonnes. Mais que les touristes adeptes des balades en bateau se rassurent, les grilles ne risquent pas de leur dégringoler sur la tête ! «La structure, une croix de Saint-André, empêche le grillage de tomber côté Seine».
Que deviennent les cadenas d’amour ?
Plusieurs centaines de cadenas retirés d’un coup, ça interroge. Surtout lorsqu’il est question de savoir où ils vont atterrir. Et pour découvrir leur nouvel emplacement, c’est un véritable parcours du combattant. Baladés de services en services à la mairie de Paris sans obtenir de réponse précise, nous finirons par comprendre que le sujet est tabou. Ou presque. «On les garde entiers, avant de les stocker dans des entrepôts de la voirie, finit par lâcher un employé. Mais il commence à y en avoir beaucoup. On attend donc qu’une décision soit prise.»
Si la mairie ne semble pas encline à dénuder le pont des Arts, l’attraction touristique ne plaît pas à tous. Un mois avant la Saint-Valentin, deux jeunes New-Yorkaises qui résident à Paris ont mené campagne pour rappeler que cette mode des cadenas, apparue à Paris en 2008, était en train de détruire le caractère historique du pont des Arts. Dans une lettre publiée sur leur blog «No Love Locks», elles ont appelé les candidats à la mairie de Paris à prendre des mesures pour stopper la pose de cadenas. On peut également y trouver une pétition, déjà signée par près de 5 000 personnes.
Les demoiselles new-yorkaises ne sont d’ailleurs pas les seules à avoir tenté de délivrer le pont des Arts de ses cadenas. En 2010 déjà, un étudiant des Beaux-Arts avait pris d’assaut le pont durant la nuit du 11 au 12 mai pour le dénuder. Seule une quarantaine de cadenas était alors parvenue à résister aux lames acérées de ses tenailles. A l’époque, les médias s’interrogeaient. Qu’était-il arrivé aux cadenas ? Ce n’est que quelques mois plus tard, lors d’une exposition aux Beaux-Arts, qu’ils ont découvert la solution de l’énigme : parmi les œuvres exposées, une étrange sculpture rassemblait des centaines de cadenas. Deux ans après les faits, un autre artiste, le plasticien français Loris Gréaud, décide de prendre en otage 130 kg de cadenas. Une fois dérobés, il les fait fondre pour en créer une série de sculptures, Tainted Love. Mais les artistes ne sont pas les seuls à avoir tenté de vider le pont des Arts de ses cadenas. En 2013, de fausses affichettes reproduisant le logo de la mairie de Paris avaient été collées autour du pont. Elles interdisaient la pose de «love lock», sous peine d’une amende de vingt euros.
Des arbres métalliques, la solution de Moscou
Paris n’est pas la seule ville victime du succès de ces cadenas. Florence, Rome, Liverpool ou encore Moscou ont aussi leur lot de «love locks» à gérer. Face au poids de ces messages d’amour, certaines ont même trouvé des solutions ingénieuses pour éviter à leurs ponts ou lampadaires de s’écrouler. C’est le cas de la capitale russe, qui a installé des arbres en métal sur le pont Luzhkov afin d’éviter aux balustrades de s’abîmer.
De leur côté, Rome et Florence ont préféré interdire leur pose, sous peine d’amende. Un exemple vers lequel Paris ne semble pas s’orienter pour le moment. Reste à savoir ce qu’il adviendra des clés de cadenas. Jetées par-dessus le pont des Arts, elles sont de plus en plus nombreuses à tapisser les profondeurs de la Seine.
Paris sous les verrous
M le magazine du Monde
Le jour de la Saint-Valentin, ils sont des centaines à sceller leur amour d’un cadenas sur un pont de la capitale. Un acte « romantique » qui commence à poser des problèmes de sécurité.
A la Saint-Valentin, des couples se sont acheté des fleurs. D’autres se sont offert un « cadenas de l’amour » et l’ont accroché à un pont de Paris – de préférence le pont des Arts, celui de l’Archevêché ou encore la passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor – avant de jeter la clé dans la Seine. Nombre de bouquinistes et de vendeurs à la sauvette profitent de ce nouveau marché où les cadenas se monnaient de 3 à 7 euros.
Mais cette démonstration urbaine de l’amour, qui a investi la capitale à partir de 2008, a pris des proportions telles que les pouvoirs publics s’inquiètent. Accrochés par grappes entières, les cadenas – il y en aurait près de 700 000 sur les ponts, mais aussi sur les lampadaires de la capitale – sont impossibles à déverrouiller. « Le phénomène des cadenas de l’amour a pris de l’ampleur, constate-t-on à l’Hôtel de Ville. Aujourd’hui, quand on considère que le risque est trop important pour la sécurité comme pour la préservation du patrimoine, on fait intervenir les services de la voirie. »
Au pont des Arts, il a ainsi fallu installer des planches en attendant le remplacement d’une grille métallique endommagée par des grappes de cadenas. Ce qui n’est pas surprenant. Ces petits symboles à clé pèseraient plus de 300 kilos par mètre. Ce qui, quand on sait que le pont de l’Archevêché, pris d’assaut par les touristes, mesure 68 mètres, n’est pas anodin. Les services municipaux organisent donc des rondes pour vérifier la sécurité des garde-corps, quand ce ne sont pas des riverains inquiets qui les sollicitent directement.
Lorsqu’il faut intervenir, les « love locks » sont enlevés d’un bloc, tient à préciser la Mairie, « sans jamais être descellés du grillage » afin – délicate attention – de ne pas rompre le serment des amoureux. La ferraille est ensuite transportée dans un entrepôt de la direction de la voirie et des déplacements, sans que personne sache très bien quoi en faire.
L’opposition dit s’inquiéter des risques accrus que le phénomène fait peser sur la sécurité des Parisiens, et estime que cette accumulation est de plus en plus inesthétique. Il faudrait donc faire place nette. Pour l’instant, cette requête est restée lettre morte. « Il y a une sorte de secret-défense sur ce sujet », déplore Jean-François Legaret, président du groupe UMP au Conseil de Paris. Florence Berthout, candidate UMP dans le 5e arrondissement, propose qu’un lieu aménagé par un artiste soit réservé à ces cadenas. A l’Hôtel de Ville, on préfère laisser le dossier à la prochaine maire.
Grand Paris et petits détours
Des cadenas d’amour et d’autres choses déprimantes…
10 juin 2014
La chute d’un morceau de garde-corps de la passerelle des Arts sous le poids des «cadenas d’amour» a déclenché, chez les autorités municipales, l’envoi d’une équipe pour poser un contreplaqué. Après quoi, Anne Hidalgo, maire de Paris, a dit en substance qu’elle allait étudier avec son premier adjoint Bruno Julliard, la façon d’amener les amoureux de la planète à aller s’accrocher ailleurs.
L’idée de décrocher les cadenas à coup de pince, de le faire régulièrement, et de protéger l’esthétique et la sécurité de la passerelle, voire celle des visiteurs qui passent dessous en bateau, ne semble effleurer personne. Il faut dire que les cadenas sont posés par des touristes. Et que le touriste est devenu l’enfant chéri de Paris. Tels des parents gâteux trouvant délicieuses les sottises de leurs bambins, les élus parisiens regardent les touristes transformer l’élégante passerelle en amas de ferraille. Et constatent avec embarras que les lois de la physique sont plus fortes que le romantisme.
Cet épisode est assez révélateur d’une tournure que prend Paris. Longtemps assez imprévisibles dans leurs qualités d’accueil, les acteurs de l’économie parisienne (commerçants, hôteliers, musées, RATP…) se sont aperçus que le tourisme était un pan majeur de leur économie. Beaucoup de revêches sont devenus aimables. Parfait.
Mais sournoisement, le tourisme n’est plus un aspect de Paris parmi d’autres, c’est son aspect central. On remarquera au passage qu’un vaste espace de l’Hôtel de ville vient d’être transformé en boutique de souvenirs. Il faut croire qu’on en manquait. Mais il faut décrypter d’autres signes.
Prenons l’exemple du Vélib’. Dans son excellent livre, intitulé Le pouvoir de la pédale, mon confrère Olivier Razemon s’interroge sur le coût du Vélib’ pour la puissance publique. Il est considérable. Peut-être sommes-nous, nous Parisiens, trop mal élevés, trop vandales, trop voleurs… Toujours est-il que le remplacement des Vélib’ est un puits sans fond. Rassurons-nous sur notre psychologie: l’échec a été constaté ailleurs, comme à Londres où Barclays ne veut plus payer pour ces pertes.
Face à cet état de fait, la municipalité pourrait engager un débat public sur une réorientation de la politique cyclable, comme un élément d’une politique de déplacements, avec peut-être d’autres systèmes de mise à disposition de vélos. Un truc pour habitants et usagers de Paris. Or, c’est impossible. Le Vélib’, son image, ses produits dérivés, sont présentés comme un élément de l’attractivité de Paris. Indéboulonnable.
Plus généralement, c’est toute la ville qui glisse doucement vers un destin de station balnéaire. Le patron des Galeries Lafayette a beau avoir déclaré qu’il était important que les touristes puissent voir des Parisiennes dans son magasin, l’orientation plein luxe de ses concurrents Le Printemps et le Bon Marché risque d’en attirer de moins en moins. Un grand magasin était un endroit où l’on allait acheter un imperméable parce qu’il y avait un rayon imperméables. Terminé. Il y a un corner Burberry’s. Les grands-mères du VIIe arrondissement allaient au rayon mercerie du Bon Marché. Fini, mamie, débrouille-toi autrement…
Le plus déprimant dans tout ça, c’est que Paris est devenu si attirant que les propriétaires d’appartements préfèrent louer leurs biens à prix d’or aux visiteurs qui ne restent qu’une semaine plutôt que moins cher aux habitants qui resteront toute leur vie. Les élus se sont aperçus avec effroi de cette situation qui leur avait totalement échappé. Depuis, deux ou trois ans, ils agitent la réglementation comme une pauvre menace. Mais la messe est dite. Derrière les cadenas d’amour, la crise du logement. De quoi rester songeur…
ROME — Love, in all its splendor and mess, found a fit expression on Rome’s oldest bridge last year. Inspired by a best-selling book, then the movie version, young couples wrote their names on a padlock. They chained it around a lamppost on Ponte Milvio. Then they symbolically cut off escape by tossing the key into the wine-dark Tiber below.
But reality quickly set in, as it often does after passion. Thousands of locks and chains piled up. The lamps atop two lightposts crumbled under the weight. Neighbors complained of vandalism. Politicians who tried to solve the problem were accused – and this is bad in Italy – of being anti-love.
Late last month, a solution was finally put into place. City officials created official spots for the locks – six sets of steel posts with chains on the bridge – so now lovers can declare themselves without damage to the infrastructure. And so this city of monuments has just created another one, if at a cost: Tossing a key off Ponte Milvio, some Italians complain, may soon be as touristy and routine as flipping a coin into the Trevi Fountain.
« It’s less romantic, » said Costantino Boccuni, a 28-year-old soldier who had just affixed a lock to one of the new city-approved spots to declare his love for his wife of six years, Daniela, 26. « It was more beautiful before. It was more original.
« Now it’s more like a fashion, » he said.
But still, as Rome’s distinctly lovely light faded into evening, they did it. And in the few days since the new posts and chains went up, dozens of new love locks have been sealed shut on Ponte Milvio, in a perfect world, forever (though in practice, the city will periodically prune the locks just as they sweep the coins from the Trevi Fountain).
The story of how Ponte Milvio, at the north of Rome’s center, became the city’s symbol of love follows a particularly Italian script, a perfectly balanced mix of history, myth, truly ludicrous political posturing and the unexpected.
First built in 206 B.C., the bridge attracted lovers long ago: Tacitus, the first century Roman historian and statesman, reported that even in his time it was « famous for its nocturnal attractions. » The Emperor Nero, Tacitus said, visited there « for his debaucheries. » (It is also the place where in 312, Constantine defeated his rival Maxentius. He became the first emperor to convert to Christianity, which to many Italians still stands against the sort of love often found on Ponte Milvio.)
Last year, a novelist and screen writer, Federico Moccia, wrote the second installment of a story of young Romans called, in English, « I Want You. » Like many affairs, his hero’s starts with a lie: He convinces a potential girlfriend of an invented legend, in which lovers wrap a chain around the third lamppost on the bridge’s northern side, lock it and throw the key into the Tiber.
« And then? » the girl asks.
« We’ll never leave each other, » he says, with no shame.
Moccia, 44, says he just dreamed up the ritual. « I liked the idea of tying locks to love because it is more solid, tangible, » he said. The book sold 1.1 million copies, the movie version came out – and soon life began imitating art.
Moccia said he was stunned when locks and chains appeared on the bridge, though he tied the craze to a lingering malaise in Italy, which is growing old, producing fewer babies, suffering from an economy that often keeps young people unemployed and at home with their parents into their 30s.
« It is a precise sign of our times – there is a lack of dreaming in Italy, » he said. « We only hear bad news. There is no longer the smile of who we see from afar or near the dream. And that gesture of the lock on the bridge, of the feeling of the iron closing, it’s a promise. It’s beautiful. »
Soon beauty turned to menace. Lovers came from all over Italy, joined by some tourists. The ancient bridge, which also attracts not only lovers but drinkers and no small number of pot smokers, began to be covered in lovers’ graffiti, along with the overwhelming number of chains.
This spring, the city cracked down.
Inevitably, politics intruded: In this nation’s long battle between left and right, right-wing parties accused the leftist mayor, Walter Veltroni, who may some day become prime minister, with a crime far worse than corruption.
« The left is against lovers, » one rightist city official, Marco Clarke, charged in February.
Fighting words: An artful compromise clearly needed finding. Thus the posts and chains.
Lovers can affix their locks directly to them (which seemed to be the case in two recent, very pleasant evenings on the bridge). Or if they insist on chaining them to the lampposts, the locks will periodically be transferred down to the posts and chains.
« We have used good sense, meaning we realize that it is about a primary and innocent feeling, » said Silvio Di Francia, a city official responsible for solving the problem. « However if all the historic bridges had locks we would have a problem with the maintenance. »
So the tradition continues, if with some reservations about compromising on love. And some young Roman said that even before the new official posts, the tradition had lost its edge.
They complain that it has become just another tourist attraction, complete with two vendors selling locks on the spot for €5, or $6.90, €3 or €1 for the smallest. Families pose for cell-phone photos there.
« I would be embarrassed, » said Michael P., a 22-year-old photographer’s assistant who would not give his last name because he was smoking marijuana. « It’s a question of dignity. If I want to express love, I will express it in my way. »
But Gianluca and Federica recently marked their love with a lock, as did Ricky and Francy, Piti and Piti, several Mirkoses with suspiciously similar handwriting. Anna and Philip Colletti, from Montreal, marked their 25th anniversary with a lock. Their children told them about it.
« Twenty-five years of marriage – it might freak out these young couples, » Colletti said.
Peter Kiefer contributed reporting.
Love locks to be removed from National Carillon footbridge in Canberra
2 Feb 2015
Citing public safety concerns, the NCA on Monday announced plans to clear the so-called love locks, from the footbridge connecting Aspen Island, home to Canberra’s National Carillon, to the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin.
The authority will begin removing locks on Friday and will conduct inspections to make sure no other locks are placed in the future.
Said to have originated in Serbia, love locks are a world-wide phenomenon that can be found on bridges throughout Australia, Europe and the world.
One of the most famous sites is on the Pont Des Arts, outside the Louvre in Paris.
According to tradition, couples engrave their names on a padlock and then attach it to a bridge, before throwing the keys into the water below.
NCA executive director Helen Badger conceded the locks did not pose a public safety risk at the moment, but said the authority had decided to remove them before they became a threat to the structural integrity of the bridge.
« The love locks at the moment don’t cause a problem because of their weight. (But) there is the example in Paris where a bridge has been overweighted by the locks. So for the future, the more locks that are added will add weight to the bridge, » she told 666 ABC Canberra.
« The other problem that we have, is that all the locks are made of different types of metals. The metals cause corrosion on the railings and that then can interfere with the structure of the bridge. »
Authority acknowledges love locks ‘a sensitive issue’
Ms Badger said there were more than 200 love locks at sites across the ACT and that padlocks at other sites under the National Capital Authority’s jurisdiction would also be removed.
Adding a sense of irony to the announcement, the NCA are currently running an unrelated social media campaign titled Love Lake Burley Griffin, encouraging Canberrans to share tips on protecting ACT’s waterways online.
« It’s been a very tough decision but the NCA has had to consider the impact that the locks have on the bridges now and into the future. We haven’t made the decision lightly, » Ms Badger said.
The reaction from Canberrans on social media today was mixed – some were angry and some were ambivalent, while others made light of the news.
Ms Badger said the authority had turned over the idea of offering alternative site for love locks, but no suitable structures had been found.
« If that’s something that is very important to everybody in the future, then maybe that’s something we can look at. But in the short term, that’s not something we’ve considered, » she said.
« We do understand that its a very emotive issue, but we do need to look at the bigger picture. »
Ms Badger said in the future, she hoped love struck Canberrans would their celebrate their relationships by enjoying National Carillon recitals on Aspen Island, instead placing a love lock.
Voir de plus:
2. Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne, Germany – Love locks started appearing on this bridge over the river Rhine in Cologne, in the year 2009
3. N Seoul Tower, Seoul, South Korea – Seven artificial “love trees” were put on the terraces of this tower in Seoul by the tower’s operators. Those artificial trees are capable of holding great weight, especially designed with the padlocks weight on mind. The tower’s operators also provided a “key bin” for the keys, so those won’t be thrown from the tower. The regular fences were also replaced by glass fences so that padlocks couldn’t be locked on the fence itself
4. Vodootvodny Canal, Moscow, Russia – Another artificial “love tree”, this time on a bridge across the Vodootvodny Canal in Moscow. This is just one of many such iron trees
5. Mount Huang, China – The fences on Mount Huang in China are packed with love locks. Sweethearts lock their soul together on one of the fences and throw away the key to the valleys below
6. Most Ljubavi, Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia – Most Ljubavi, meaning “Bridge of Love”, is one of 15 bridges in the town of Vrnjačka Banja, in Serbia. The bridge is a major destination for love padlocks
7. Malá Strana district, Prague, Czech Republic – Love padlocks can be found on a pedestrian bridge in the Malá Strana district
8. Ponte Milvio Bridge, Rome, Italy – Love locks are gaining more and more momentum in Italy, and it all started in the Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome. The ritual in Italy is inspired greatly by a fictional event in the popular book “I Want You” by the Italian author Federico Moccia
Awesome Love Locks Locations: Ponte Milvio Bridge, Rome
9. Butchers’ Bridge, Ljubljana, Slovenia – This new pedestrians bridge has started collecting its share of love locks in 2010. The bridge crosses the Ljubljanica river
10. Brooklyn Bridge, NYC, New York, United States – Many love locks were locked to the Brooklyn Bridge, but they are now being removed due to safety concerns
The Tragedy of the Commons
The author is professor of biology, University of California, Santa Barbara. This article is based on a presidential address presented before the meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Utah State University, Logan, 25 June 1968.
The population problem has no technical solution; it requires a fundamental extension in morality.
At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear war, Wiesner and York (1) concluded that: « Both sides in the arms race are …confronted by the dilemma of steadily increasing military power and steadily decreasing national security. It is our considered professional judgment that this dilemma has no technical solution. If the great powers continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technology only, the result will be to worsen the situation. »
I would like to focus your attention not on the subject of the article (national security in a nuclear world) but on the kind of conclusion they reached, namely that there is no technical solution to the problem. An implicit and almost universal assumption of discussions published in professional and semipopular scientific journals is that the problem under discussion has a technical solution. A technical solution may be defined as one that requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality.
In our day (though not in earlier times) technical solutions are always welcome. Because of previous failures in prophecy, it takes courage to assert that a desired technical solution is not possible. Wiesner and York exhibited this courage; publishing in a science journal, they insisted that the solution to the problem was not to be found in the natural sciences. They cautiously qualified their statement with the phrase, « It is our considered professional judgment… . » Whether they were right or not is not the concern of the present article. Rather, the concern here is with the important concept of a class of human problems which can be called « no technical solution problems, » and, more specifically, with the identification and discussion of one of these.
It is easy to show that the class is not a null class. Recall the game of tick-tack-toe. Consider the problem, « How can I win the game of tick-tack-toe? » It is well known that I cannot, if I assume (in keeping with the conventions of game theory) that my opponent understands the game perfectly. Put another way, there is no « technical solution » to the problem. I can win only by giving a radical meaning to the word « win. » I can hit my opponent over the head; or I can drug him; or I can falsify the records. Every way in which I « win » involves, in some sense, an abandonment of the game, as we intuitively understand it. (I can also, of course, openly abandon the game–refuse to play it. This is what most adults do.)
The class of « No technical solution problems » has members. My thesis is that the « population problem, » as conventionally conceived, is a member of this class. How it is conventionally conceived needs some comment. It is fair to say that most people who anguish over the population problem are trying to find a way to avoid the evils of overpopulation without relinquishing any of the privileges they now enjoy. They think that farming the seas or developing new strains of wheat will solve the problem–technologically. I try to show here that the solution they seek cannot be found. The population problem cannot be solved in a technical way, any more than can the problem of winning the game of tick-tack-toe.
What Shall We Maximize?
Population, as Malthus said, naturally tends to grow « geometrically, » or, as we would now say, exponentially. In a finite world this means that the per capita share of the world’s goods must steadily decrease. Is ours a finite world?
A fair defense can be put forward for the view that the world is infinite; or that we do not know that it is not. But, in terms of the practical problems that we must face in the next few generations with the foreseeable technology, it is clear that we will greatly increase human misery if we do not, during the immediate future, assume that the world available to the terrestrial human population is finite. « Space » is no escape (2).
A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero. (The case of perpetual wide fluctuations above and below zero is a trivial variant that need not be discussed.) When this condition is met, what will be the situation of mankind? Specifically, can Bentham’s goal of « the greatest good for the greatest number » be realized?
No–for two reasons, each sufficient by itself. The first is a theoretical one. It is not mathematically possible to maximize for two (or more) variables at the same time. This was clearly stated by von Neumann and Morgenstern (3), but the principle is implicit in the theory of partial differential equations, dating back at least to D’Alembert (1717-1783).
The second reason springs directly from biological facts. To live, any organism must have a source of energy (for example, food). This energy is utilized for two purposes: mere maintenance and work. For man, maintenance of life requires about 1600 kilocalories a day (« maintenance calories »). Anything that he does over and above merely staying alive will be defined as work, and is supported by « work calories » which he takes in. Work calories are used not only for what we call work in common speech; they are also required for all forms of enjoyment, from swimming and automobile racing to playing music and writing poetry. If our goal is to maximize population it is obvious what we must do: We must make the work calories per person approach as close to zero as possible. No gourmet meals, no vacations, no sports, no music, no literature, no art. … I think that everyone will grant, without argument or proof, that maximizing population does not maximize goods. Bentham’s goal is impossible.
In reaching this conclusion I have made the usual assumption that it is the acquisition of energy that is the problem. The appearance of atomic energy has led some to question this assumption. However, given an infinite source of energy, population growth still produces an inescapable problem. The problem of the acquisition of energy is replaced by the problem of its dissipation, as J. H. Fremlin has so wittily shown (4). The arithmetic signs in the analysis are, as it were, reversed; but Bentham’s goal is still unobtainable.
The optimum population is, then, less than the maximum. The difficulty of defining the optimum is enormous; so far as I know, no one has seriously tackled this problem. Reaching an acceptable and stable solution will surely require more than one generation of hard analytical work–and much persuasion.
We want the maximum good per person; but what is good? To one person it is wilderness, to another it is ski lodges for thousands. To one it is estuaries to nourish ducks for hunters to shoot; to another it is factory land. Comparing one good with another is, we usually say, impossible because goods are incommensurable. Incommensurables cannot be compared.
Theoretically this may be true; but in real life incommensurables are commensurable. Only a criterion of judgment and a system of weighting are needed. In nature the criterion is survival. Is it better for a species to be small and hideable, or large and powerful? Natural selection commensurates the incommensurables. The compromise achieved depends on a natural weighting of the values of the variables.
Man must imitate this process. There is no doubt that in fact he already does, but unconsciously. It is when the hidden decisions are made explicit that the arguments begin. The problem for the years ahead is to work out an acceptable theory of weighting. Synergistic effects, nonlinear variation, and difficulties in discounting the future make the intellectual problem difficult, but not (in principle) insoluble.
Has any cultural group solved this practical problem at the present time, even on an intuitive level? One simple fact proves that none has: there is no prosperous population in the world today that has, and has had for some time, a growth rate of zero. Any people that has intuitively identified its optimum point will soon reach it, after which its growth rate becomes and remains zero.
Of course, a positive growth rate might be taken as evidence that a population is below its optimum. However, by any reasonable standards, the most rapidly growing populations on earth today are (in general) the most miserable. This association (which need not be invariable) casts doubt on the optimistic assumption that the positive growth rate of a population is evidence that it has yet to reach its optimum.
We can make little progress in working toward optimum population size until we explicitly exorcize the spirit of Adam Smith in the field of practical demography. In economic affairs, The Wealth of Nations (1776) popularized the « invisible hand, » the idea that an individual who « intends only his own gain, » is, as it were, « led by an invisible hand to promote . . . the public interest » (5). Adam Smith did not assert that this was invariably true, and perhaps neither did any of his followers. But he contributed to a dominant tendency of thought that has ever since interfered with positive action based on rational analysis, namely, the tendency to assume that decisions reached individually will, in fact, be the best decisions for an entire society. If this assumption is correct it justifies the continuance of our present policy of laissez-faire in reproduction. If it is correct we can assume that men will control their individual fecundity so as to produce the optimum population. If the assumption is not correct, we need to reexamine our individual freedoms to see which ones are defensible.
Tragedy of Freedom in a Commons
The rebuttal to the invisible hand in population control is to be found in a scenario first sketched in a little-known pamphlet (6) in 1833 by a mathematical amateur named William Forster Lloyd (1794-1852). We may well call it « the tragedy of the commons, » using the word « tragedy » as the philosopher Whitehead used it (7): « The essence of dramatic tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things. » He then goes on to say, « This inevitableness of destiny can only be illustrated in terms of human life by incidents which in fact involve unhappiness. For it is only by them that the futility of escape can be made evident in the drama. »
The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.
As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, « What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd? » This utility has one negative and one positive component.
1) The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly +1.
2) The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsmen, the negative utility for any particular decision-making herdsman is only a fraction of Ã¢ÂˆÂ’1.
Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another; and another… But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit–in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward 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.
Some would say that this is a platitude. Would that it were! In a sense, it was learned thousands of years ago, but natural selection favors the forces of psychological denial (8). The individual benefits as an individual from his ability to deny the truth even though society as a whole, of which he is a part, suffers.
Education can counteract the natural tendency to do the wrong thing, but the inexorable succession of generations requires that the basis for this knowledge be constantly refreshed.
A simple incident that occurred a few years ago in Leominster, Massachusetts, shows how perishable the knowledge is. During the Christmas shopping season the parking meters downtown were covered with plastic bags that bore tags reading: « Do not open until after Christmas. Free parking courtesy of the mayor and city council. » In other words, facing the prospect of an increased demand for already scarce space. the city fathers reinstituted the system of the commons. (Cynically, we suspect that they gained more votes than they lost by this retrogressive act.)
In an approximate way, the logic of the commons has been understood for a long time, perhaps since the discovery of agriculture or the invention of private property in real estate. But it is understood mostly only in special cases which are not sufficiently generalized. Even at this late date, cattlemen leasing national land on the western ranges demonstrate no more than an ambivalent understanding, in constantly pressuring federal authorities to increase the head count to the point where overgrazing produces erosion and weed-dominance. Likewise, the oceans of the world continue to suffer from the survival of the philosophy of the commons. Maritime nations still respond automatically to the shibboleth of the « freedom of the seas. » Professing to believe in the « inexhaustible resources of the oceans, » they bring species after species of fish and whales closer to extinction (9).
The National Parks present another instance of the working out of the tragedy of the commons. At present, they are open to all, without limit. The parks themselves are limited in extent–there is only one Yosemite Valley–whereas population seems to grow without limit. The values that visitors seek in the parks are steadily eroded. Plainly, we must soon cease to treat the parks as commons or they will be of no value to anyone.
What shall we do? We have several options. We might sell them off as private property. We might keep them as public property, but allocate the right to enter them. The allocation might be on the basis of wealth, by the use of an auction system. It might be on the basis of merit, as defined by some agreed-upon standards. It might be by lottery. Or it might be on a first-come, first-served basis, administered to long queues. These, I think, are all the reasonable possibilities. They are all objectionable. But we must choose–or acquiesce in the destruction of the commons that we call our National Parks.
In a reverse way, the tragedy of the commons reappears in problems of pollution. Here it is not a question of taking something out of the commons, but of putting something in–sewage, or chemical, radioactive, and heat wastes into water; noxious and dangerous fumes into the air, and distracting and unpleasant advertising signs into the line of sight. The calculations of utility are much the same as before. The rational man finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he discharges into the commons is less than the cost of purifying his wastes before releasing them. Since this is true for everyone, we are locked into a system of « fouling our own nest, » so long as we behave only as independent, rational, free-enterprisers.
The tragedy of the commons as a food basket is averted by private property, or something formally like it. But the air and waters surrounding us cannot readily be fenced, and so the tragedy of the commons as a cesspool must be prevented by different means, by coercive laws or taxing devices that make it cheaper for the polluter to treat his pollutants than to discharge them untreated. We have not progressed as far with the solution of this problem as we have with the first. Indeed, our particular concept of private property, which deters us from exhausting the positive resources of the earth, favors pollution. The owner of a factory on the bank of a stream–whose property extends to the middle of the stream, often has difficulty seeing why it is not his natural right to muddy the waters flowing past his door. The law, always behind the times, requires elaborate stitching and fitting to adapt it to this newly perceived aspect of the commons.
The pollution problem is a consequence of population. It did not much matter how a lonely American frontiersman disposed of his waste. « Flowing water purifies itself every 10 miles, » my grandfather used to say, and the myth was near enough to the truth when he was a boy, for there were not too many people. But as population became denser, the natural chemical and biological recycling processes became overloaded, calling for a redefinition of property rights.
How To Legislate Temperance?
Analysis of the pollution problem as a function of population density uncovers a not generally recognized principle of morality, namely: the morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed (10). Using the commons as a cesspool does not harm the general public under frontier conditions, because there is no public, the same behavior in a metropolis is unbearable. A hundred and fifty years ago a plainsman could kill an American bison, cut out only the tongue for his dinner, and discard the rest of the animal. He was not in any important sense being wasteful. Today, with only a few thousand bison left, we would be appalled at such behavior.
In passing, it is worth noting that the morality of an act cannot be determined from a photograph. One does not know whether a man killing an elephant or setting fire to the grassland is harming others until one knows the total system in which his act appears. « One picture is worth a thousand words, » said an ancient Chinese; but it may take 10,000 words to validate it. It is as tempting to ecologists as it is to reformers in general to try to persuade others by way of the photographic shortcut. But the essense of an argument cannot be photographed: it must be presented rationally–in words.
That morality is system-sensitive escaped the attention of most codifiers of ethics in the past. « Thou shalt not . . . » is the form of traditional ethical directives which make no allowance for particular circumstances. The laws of our society follow the pattern of ancient ethics, and therefore are poorly suited to governing a complex, crowded, changeable world. Our epicyclic solution is to augment statutory law with administrative law. Since it is practically impossible to spell out all the conditions under which it is safe to burn trash in the back yard or to run an automobile without smog-control, by law we delegate the details to bureaus. The result is administrative law, which is rightly feared for an ancient reason–Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?–« Who shall watch the watchers themselves? » John Adams said that we must have « a government of laws and not men. » Bureau administrators, trying to evaluate the morality of acts in the total system, are singularly liable to corruption, producing a government by men, not laws.
Prohibition is easy to legislate (though not necessarily to enforce); but how do we legislate temperance? Experience indicates that it can be accomplished best through the mediation of administrative law. We limit possibilities unnecessarily if we suppose that the sentiment of Quis custodiet denies us the use of administrative law. We should rather retain the phrase as a perpetual reminder of fearful dangers we cannot avoid. The great challenge facing us now is to invent the corrective feedbacks that are needed to keep custodians honest. We must find ways to legitimate the needed authority of both the custodians and the corrective feedbacks.
Freedom To Breed Is Intolerable
The tragedy of the commons is involved in population problems in another way. In a world governed solely by the principle of « dog eat dog »–if indeed there ever was such a world–how many children a family had would not be a matter of public concern. Parents who bred too exuberantly would leave fewer descendants, not more, because they would be unable to care adequately for their children. David Lack and others have found that such a negative feedback demonstrably controls the fecundity of birds (11). But men are not birds, and have not acted like them for millenniums, at least.
If each human family were dependent only on its own resources; if the children of improvident parents starved to death; if, thus, overbreeding brought its own « punishment » to the germ line–then there would be no public interest in controlling the breeding of families. But our society is deeply committed to the welfare state (12), and hence is confronted with another aspect of the tragedy of the commons.
In a welfare state, how shall we deal with the family, the religion, the race, or the class (or indeed any distinguishable and cohesive group) that adopts overbreeding as a policy to secure its own aggrandizement (13)? To couple the concept of freedom to breed with the belief that everyone born has an equal right to the commons is to lock the world into a tragic course of action.
Unfortunately this is just the course of action that is being pursued by the United Nations. In late 1967, some 30 nations agreed to the following (14): The Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society. It follows that any choice and decision with regard to the size of the family must irrevocably rest with the family itself, and cannot be made by anyone else.
It is painful to have to deny categorically the validity of this right; denying it, one feels as uncomfortable as a resident of Salem, Massachusetts, who denied the reality of witches in the 17th century. At the present time, in liberal quarters, something like a taboo acts to inhibit criticism of the United Nations. There is a feeling that the United Nations is « our last and best hope, » that we shouldn’t find fault with it; we shouldn’t play into the hands of the archconservatives. However, let us not forget what Robert Louis Stevenson said: « The truth that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the enemy. » If we love the truth we must openly deny the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even though it is promoted by the United Nations. We should also join with Kingsley Davis (15) in attempting to get Planned Parenthood-World Population to see the error of its ways in embracing the same tragic ideal.
Conscience Is Self-Eliminating
It is a mistake to think that we can control the breeding of mankind in the long run by an appeal to conscience. Charles Galton Darwin made this point when he spoke on the centennial of the publication of his grandfather’s great book. The argument is straightforward and Darwinian.
People vary. Confronted with appeals to limit breeding, some people will undoubtedly respond to the plea more than others. Those who have more children will produce a larger fraction of the next generation than those with more susceptible consciences. The difference will be accentuated, generation by generation.
In C. G. Darwin’s words: « It may well be that it would take hundreds of generations for the progenitive instinct to develop in this way, but if it should do so, nature would have taken her revenge, and the variety Homo contracipiens would become extinct and would be replaced by the variety Homo progenitivus » (16).
The argument assumes that conscience or the desire for children (no matter which) is hereditary–but hereditary only in the most general formal sense. The result will be the same whether the attitude is transmitted through germ cells, or exosomatically, to use A. J. Lotka’s term. (If one denies the latter possibility as well as the former, then what’s the point of education?) The argument has here been stated in the context of the population problem, but it applies equally well to any instance in which society appeals to an individual exploiting a commons to restrain himself for the general good–by means of his conscience. To make such an appeal is to set up a selective system that works toward the elimination of conscience from the race.
Pathogenic Effects of Conscience
The long-term disadvantage of an appeal to conscience should be enough to condemn it; but has serious short-term disadvantages as well. If we ask a man who is exploiting a commons to desist « in the name of conscience, » what are we saying to him? What does he hear? –not only at the moment but also in the wee small hours of the night when, half asleep, he remembers not merely the words we used but also the nonverbal communication cues we gave him unawares? Sooner or later, consciously or subconsciously, he senses that he has received two communications, and that they are contradictory: (i) (intended communication) « If you don’t do as we ask, we will openly condemn you for not acting like a responsible citizen »; (ii) (the unintended communication) « If you do behave as we ask, we will secretly condemn you for a simpleton who can be shamed into standing aside while the rest of us exploit the commons. »
Everyman then is caught in what Bateson has called a « double bind. » Bateson and his co-workers have made a plausible case for viewing the double bind as an important causative factor in the genesis of schizophrenia (17). The double bind may not always be so damaging, but it always endangers the mental health of anyone to whom it is applied. « A bad conscience, » said Nietzsche, « is a kind of illness. »
To conjure up a conscience in others is tempting to anyone who wishes to extend his control beyond the legal limits. Leaders at the highest level succumb to this temptation. Has any President during the past generation failed to call on labor unions to moderate voluntarily their demands for higher wages, or to steel companies to honor voluntary guidelines on prices? I can recall none. The rhetoric used on such occasions is designed to produce feelings of guilt in noncooperators.
For centuries it was assumed without proof that guilt was a valuable, perhaps even an indispensable, ingredient of the civilized life. Now, in this post-Freudian world, we doubt it.
Paul Goodman speaks from the modern point of view when he says: « No good has ever come from feeling guilty, neither intelligence, policy, nor compassion. The guilty do not pay attention to the object but only to themselves, and not even to their own interests, which might make sense, but to their anxieties » (18).
One does not have to be a professional psychiatrist to see the consequences of anxiety. We in the Western world are just emerging from a dreadful two-centuries-long Dark Ages of Eros that was sustained partly by prohibition laws, but perhaps more effectively by the anxiety-generating mechanism of education. Alex Comfort has told the story well in The Anxiety Makers (19); it is not a pretty one.
Since proof is difficult, we may even concede that the results of anxiety may sometimes, from certain points of view, be desirable. The larger question we should ask is whether, as a matter of policy, we should ever encourage the use of a technique the tendency (if not the intention) of which is psychologically pathogenic. We hear much talk these days of responsible parenthood; the coupled words are incorporated into the titles of some organizations devoted to birth control. Some people have proposed massive propaganda campaigns to instill responsibility into the nation’s (or the world’s) breeders. But what is the meaning of the word responsibility in this context? Is it not merely a synonym for the word conscience? When we use the word responsibility in the absence of substantial sanctions are we not trying to browbeat a free man in a commons into acting against his own interest? Responsibility is a verbal counterfeit for a substantial quid pro quo. It is an attempt to get something for nothing.
If the word responsibility is to be used at all, I suggest that it be in the sense Charles Frankel uses it (20). « Responsibility, » says this philosopher, « is the product of definite social arrangements. » Notice that Frankel calls for social arrangements–not propaganda.
Mutual Coercion Mutually Agreed upon
The social arrangements that produce responsibility are arrangements that create coercion, of some sort. Consider bank-robbing. The man who takes money from a bank acts as if the bank were a commons. How do we prevent such action? Certainly not by trying to control his behavior solely by a verbal appeal to his sense of responsibility. Rather than rely on propaganda we follow Frankel’s lead and insist that a bank is not a commons; we seek the definite social arrangements that will keep it from becoming a commons. That we thereby infringe on the freedom of would-be robbers we neither deny nor regret.
The morality of bank-robbing is particularly easy to understand because we accept complete prohibition of this activity. We are willing to say « Thou shalt not rob banks, » without providing for exceptions. But temperance also can be created by coercion. Taxing is a good coercive device. To keep downtown shoppers temperate in their use of parking space we introduce parking meters for short periods, and traffic fines for longer ones. 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. A Madison Avenue man might call this persuasion; I prefer the greater candor of the word coercion.
Coercion is a dirty word to most liberals now, but it need not forever be so. As with the four-letter words, its dirtiness can be cleansed away by exposure to the light, by saying it over and over without apology or embarrassment. To many, the word coercion implies arbitrary decisions of distant and irresponsible bureaucrats; but this is not a necessary part of its meaning. The only kind of coercion I recommend is mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people affected.
To say that we mutually agree to coercion is not to say that we are required to enjoy it, or even to pretend we enjoy it. Who enjoys taxes? We all grumble about them. But we accept compulsory taxes because we recognize that voluntary taxes would favor the conscienceless. We institute and (grumblingly) support taxes and other coercive devices to escape the horror of the commons.
An alternative to the commons need not be perfectly just to be preferable. With real estate and other material goods, the alternative we have chosen is the institution of private property coupled with legal inheritance. Is this system perfectly just? As a genetically trained biologist I deny that it is. It seems to me that, if there are to be differences in individual inheritance, legal possession should be perfectly correlated with biological inheritance–that those who are biologically more fit to be the custodians of property and power should legally inherit more. But genetic recombination continually makes a mockery of the doctrine of « like father, like son » implicit in our laws of legal inheritance. An idiot can inherit millions, and a trust fund can keep his estate intact. We must admit that our legal system of private property plus inheritance is unjust–but we put up with it because we are not convinced, at the moment, that anyone has invented a better system. The alternative of the commons is too horrifying to contemplate. Injustice is preferable to total ruin.
It is one of the peculiarities of the warfare between reform and the status quo that it is thoughtlessly governed by a double standard. Whenever a reform measure is proposed it is often defeated when its opponents triumphantly discover a flaw in it. As Kingsley Davis has pointed out (21), worshippers of the status quo sometimes imply that no reform is possible without unanimous agreement, an implication contrary to historical fact. As nearly as I can make out, automatic rejection of proposed reforms is based on one of two unconscious assumptions: (i) that the status quo is perfect; or (ii) that the choice we face is between reform and no action; if the proposed reform is imperfect, we presumably should take no action at all, while we wait for a perfect proposal.
But we can never do nothing. That which we have done for thousands of years is also action. It also produces evils. Once we are aware that the status quo is action, we can then compare its discoverable advantages and disadvantages with the predicted advantages and disadvantages of the proposed reform, discounting as best we can for our lack of experience. On the basis of such a comparison, we can make a rational decision which will not involve the unworkable assumption that only perfect systems are tolerable.
Recognition of Necessity
Perhaps the simplest summary of this analysis of man’s population problems is this: the commons, if justifiable at all, is justifiable only under conditions of low-population density. As the human population has increased, the commons has had to be abandoned in one aspect after another.
First we abandoned the commons in food gathering, enclosing farm land and restricting pastures and hunting and fishing areas. These restrictions are still not complete throughout the world.
Somewhat later we saw that the commons as a place for waste disposal would also have to be abandoned. Restrictions on the disposal of domestic sewage are widely accepted in the Western world; we are still struggling to close the commons to pollution by automobiles, factories, insecticide sprayers, fertilizing operations, and atomic energy installations.
In a still more embryonic state is our recognition of the evils of the commons in matters of pleasure. There is almost no restriction on the propagation of sound waves in the public medium. The shopping public is assaulted with mindless music, without its consent. Our government is paying out billions of dollars to create supersonic transport which will disturb 50,000 people for every one person who is whisked from coast to coast 3 hours faster. Advertisers muddy the airwaves of radio and television and pollute the view of travelers. We are a long way from outlawing the commons in matters of pleasure. Is this because our Puritan inheritance makes us view pleasure as something of a sin, and pain (that is, the pollution of advertising) as the sign of virtue?
Every new enclosure of the commons involves the infringement of somebody’s personal liberty. Infringements made in the distant past are accepted because no contemporary complains of a loss. It is the newly proposed infringements that we vigorously oppose; cries of « rights » and « freedom » fill the air. But what does « freedom » mean? When men mutually agreed to pass laws against robbing, mankind became more free, not less so. Individuals locked into the logic of the commons are free only to bring on universal ruin once they see the necessity of mutual coercion, they become free to pursue other goals. I believe it was Hegel who said, « Freedom is the recognition of necessity. »
The most important aspect of necessity that we must now recognize, is the necessity of abandoning the commons in breeding. No technical solution can rescue us from the misery of overpopulation. Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all. At the moment, to avoid hard decisions many of us are tempted to propagandize for conscience and responsible parenthood. The temptation must be resisted, because an appeal to independently acting consciences selects for the disappearance of all conscience in the long run, and an increase in anxiety in the short.
The only way we can preserve and nurture other and more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed, and that very soon. « Freedom is the recognition of necessity »–and it is the role of education to reveal to all the necessity of abandoning the freedom to breed. Only so, can we put an end to this aspect of the tragedy of the commons.
↵J. B. Wiesner and H. F. York. National Security and the Nuclear-Test Ban, Sci. Amer. 211 (No. 4: 27 (1964).
↵G. Hardin, J. Hered. 50: 68 (1959).
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↵J. Von Neumann, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1947) (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N.J. (p. 11).
↵Fremlin, J.H., New Sci. 285 (1964).
↵Smith, A, The Wealth of Nations 423 (1937).
W. F. Lloyd, Two Lectures on the Checks to Population (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, England, 1833), reprinted (in part) in Population, Evolution, and Birth Control, G. Hardin, Ed. (Freeman, San Francisco, 1964), p. 37.
↵A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World 17 (1948).
↵G. Hardin, Population, Evolution, and Birth Control (Freeman, San Francisco) (1964) p. 54.
↵S. McVay, Sci. Amer. 216 (No. 8) 13 (1966).
↵J. Fletcher, Situation Ethics (Westminster, Philadelphia, (1966).
↵D. Lack, the Natural Regulation of Animal Numbers (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1954).
↵H. Girvetz, Wealth to Welfare (Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, Calif., 1950).
↵G. Hardin, Perspec. Biol. Med. 6 366 (1963).
↵U. Thant, Int. Planned Parenthood News, No. 168, (February 1968) p. 3 .
↵K. Davis, Science 158 730 (1967).
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↵S. Tax, Evolution After Darwin (Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1960), vol. 2, 469.
↵G. Bateson, D. D. Jackson, J. Haley, J. Weakland, Behav. Sci. 1 251 (1956).
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↵P. Goodman, New York Rev. Books 10(8) 22 (23 May 1968).
↵A. Comfort, The Anxiety Makers (Nelson, London, 1967).
↵C. Frankel, The Case for Modern Man (Harper, New York, 1955), p. 203.
↵J. D. Roslansky, Genetics and the Future of Man 177 (Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York, 1966).
Garrett James Hardin: Ecologist, Educator, Ethicist and Environmentalist
Tribute to Garrett Hardin
Carl Jay Bajerna, Grand Valley State University
Originally published in Festschrift in Honor of Dr. Garrett Hardin
Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies Volume 12, Number 3, Spring 1991
Copyright 1991 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
« The population problem has no technical solution: It requires a fundamental extension in morality”-Garrett Hardin
This is the conclusion that Professor Hardin reached in his now classic 1968 « Tragedy of the Commons » presidential address at the meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. What led Dr. Hardin to reject the traditional scientific belief that the population problem, like all problems, has a strictly technical solution?
What is it about political systems for distributing the benefits and costs of using resources that can and frequently has led to ecological and thus human tragedy? What extension in morality does Garrett Hardin consider to be necessary if we are to minimize such tragic outcomes in the future?
It is appropriate that we honor Garrett James Hardin on his 75th birthday by reviewing the ecological problems with which he has grappled over so much of his lifetime. We will spend some time analyzing the important intellectual journey that led him to develop and advocate the logic he used in his 1968 paper, « Tragedy of the Commons, » continuing unto his subsequent efforts to more completely develop the logic for the ecological ethics that we human beings need if we are to « survive with dignity. »
GROWING UP IN THE MIDWEST
Garrett James Hardin was born April 21, 1915 in Dallas, TX. Looking back, Garrett viewed frequent family moves within the midwest and summers on his grandfather’s Missouri farm as an advantage, as he « grew up an unconscious and natural anthropologist in my own culture » (Hardin, 1989).
Garrett contracted polio at age four, which left him a shortened and weakened right leg and ruled out three occupations he seriously considered entering while growing up–those of salesman, actor, and field geologist. Through reading Popular Science he developed an interest in science which withstood a close-to-disastrous experience with classroom science (Hardin, 1982b). During high school he enjoyed public speaking, drama and math.
STUDYING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
Garrett Hardin was a bright student, earning three college scholarships. In the fall of 1932 he began attending two colleges-the University of Chicago in the daytime and the drama program at Chicago Musical College during the evening. The demands of being a good student at the University of Chicago soon led him to give up the night classes and his ambition of becoming a drama director.
Following his older brother’s advice, « If you hear a good teacher, take his course or sit in on it, no matter what the subject, » Garrett took a course from J. Harland Bretz, a geology professor who taught by the Socratic method. Garrett Hardin would have become a geologist if it had not required so much hiking. Fortunately, his freshman biology also was well taught and by the end of his sophomore year he decided to major in biology (Hardin, 1982a, p. 2-9).
The ecologist W. C. Allee became Hardin’s faculty advisor and introduced him to concepts of population growth and its ecological limits. A course in evolution taught by Sewall Wright emphasized the interaction of chance effects and selection. Population growth experiments involving protozoa and especially Raymond Pearl’s studies of the effect of culture medium on population growth led, after graduation in 1936, to a research assistantship at Stanford University for graduate work on the microbial ecology of single-celled protozoans.
LIFE AT STANFORD AND THE CARNEGIE INSTITUTION
Two individuals played an important role in Garrett Hardin’s graduate education at Stanford University. Garrett took George Beadle’s course in genetics, becoming his teaching assistant, and C. V. Van Niels’ course at the marine biology station. Van Niel used the Socratic method, which influenced Garrett’s own later teaching style.
Garrett Hardin received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1942. He then accepted a position at the Carnegie Institution where his knowledge of microbial ecology was applied to culturing algae for food. Garrett worked at the Carnegie Institution for four years but his heart was not in the business of trying to just temporarily solve population problems by increasing supplies. Garrett had learned Malthusian population theory from W. C. Allee: the ultimate solution has to involve decreasing the demand on supplies (Hardin, 19821)).
LIFE AS AN EDUCATOR
Dr. Hardin joined the biology department at the new University of California at Santa Barbara in 1946. There, he abandoned his research with protozoan cultures in the face of the heavy teaching load and lack of any research space, writing instead an introductory college biology textbook for W. H. Freeman & Co.
The first edition of Hardin’s classic text, Biology: Its Principles and Implication (1952; 1961; 1966) was published in 1949 under the original title, Biology: It’s Human Implication. The text broke new ground by presenting biology through the teaching of the scientific method, i.e. the process by which theories are constructed, scientifically tested and evaluated. In Philosophy of Teaching, John Passmore (1980, p. 99, 106) referred to this textbook as exemplifying the ideal of teaching science as a process rather than an encyclopedic collection of facts.
The Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) was organized in 1960 to improve science education in biology at the secondary level, and Dr. Hardin became a member of its Board of Directors. In 1989 Joseph McInerney, then President of the National Association of Biology Teachers and current Executive Director of the BSCS, in accepting the Association’s award for distinguished service, acknowledged Garrett Hardin as one of those scientists who greatly influenced him.
Soon after coming to Santa Barbara, Hardin happened on the works of linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf. Whorf’s work on the ambiguity of language played a decisive role in Garrett’s intellectual journey to becoming a critical thinker and a writer whose goal was « to make the ideas of others clear, both to students and to the general public » (Hardin, 1973, p. x).
Dr. Hardin has become one of the leading popularizers of the modern scientific understanding of biology and its scientific and moral implications for human beings. Through his lectures and writings, Garrett has forced more people to think about taboo subjects in biology than any other living biologist. Professor Garrett Hardin deserves to be honored if for no other reason than accomplishing this difficult task.
Filters Against Folly, Dr. Hardin’s most recent book, contains his proposals for developing critical thinking skills that will enable us to survive « despite economists, ecologists and the merely eloquent. » Professor Hardin identifies three major filters against folly that can be used to guard against the blindness, short-sightedness, or sheer idiocy that so often comes disguised as eloquence or expertise.
The literacy filter, « the ability to understand what words really mean, » can be used to understand how language is used not only to promote thought but to prevent it. While his discussion of the « verbal diarrhea » or the merely eloquent and the misuse of poetic license is fascinating, it is Hardin’s discussion of the use of such discussion-stoppers as « infinite, » « inexhaustible, » « non-negotiable, » « self-evident, » « must » and « imperative » to preempt analysis that is most revealing. Hardin also asks why talk is always about shortages of supply rather than longages of demand or of people. He concludes that it is in large part due to the fact that virtually no one individually profits from supplying less.
In a moment of frustration Mark Twain is reported to have shouted, « There are lies, damned lies and statistics! » In a world where people are very numerous and where many people use numbers to convince others to behave in certain ways, a responsible citizen has no choice but to become numerate as well as literate. The numeracy filter involves the ability to measure and interpret quantities, proportions and rates. Hardin points out that human beings have all too often learned how to use the resources of literacy to hide numbers and the need for numerate analyses. He draws attention to the problems created by always thinking solely in terms of dichotomies (safe vs. unsafe, pure vs. unpure) rather than in terms of relative risks and benefits. Quantities, ratios, rates and duration of time all matter. Professor Hardin also discusses the limitations of numeracy: an accurate mathematical analysis does not compensate for flawed premises.
Professor Hardin is at his best discussing the ecolacy filter because he has spent the last forty years studying ecology and evolution and their bioethical dimensions. A more comprehensive development of « ecolacy » – the ability to pursue the question AND THEN WHAT? so that the effects of interactions of systems over time can be taken into account-is necessary if we are not to fall victim to the forces we unleash and are unwilling or unable to control. Engineering mentality which too often thinks in terms of a single cause and a single effect needs to be replaced by the ecolacy filter, which takes into account real interactions including effects that affect their causes (feedback loops).
In this age of increasing concern over how to better develop critical thinking skills, one must go beyond the three R’s. We need the skills to use effectively the three intellectual filters of literacy, numeracy and ecolacy. There is no better place to start than the paperback edition of Professor Hardin’s book Filters Against Folly.
POPULARIZING ADAPTIVE EVOLUTION BY SELECTION THEORY
Professor Hardin’s major contribution to human ecology has been application of the Darwinian theory of selection to ongoing human genetic and cultural evolution. Hardin has worked hard at persuading fellow humans that evolution by selection is unavoidable, and that the implications for human interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment should be explored.
Nature and Man’s Fate. Dr. Hardin’s first major attempt to bring the reading public abreast of current thought in evolutionary theory and to show them its implications for the future was published as Nature and Man’s Fate (Hardin, 1959). Here he wrestled with Malthusian population theory and Darwinian selection theory, expanding on ideas initially learned from the ecologist W. C. Allee and the evolutionary biologist Sewall Wright.
Professor Hardin wrote in the Prologue to Nature and Man’s Fate that:
It doesn’t much matter whether you think man was created out of the dust six thousand years ago or came from the apes a million years earlier; whether the story of Noah’s Ark is true, or dinosaurs once lived. Believe what you will of evolution in the past; but you had jolly well better believe it will take place in the future if you hope to make political decisions that will give your descendants a reasonable chance to exist. The principles of evolution are inescapably relevant to the analysis of man’s predicament (pp, vii-viii).
To understand the present we must know the past. With John Maynard Keynes I believe that a « study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind » (p. ix).
Nature and Man’s Fate draws attention to the important fact that progress in science is in large part a process of error and detection of error. The book focuses on the inescapability of competition-driven selection – the foundation of the modern evolutionary synthesis and of Hardin’s analysis of evolution and its implications for human beings.
Essays such as « In Praise of Waste, » « Liberalism and the Spectre of Competition, » and « Eugenics: Is Man Part of Nature? » carefully address numerous taboo subjects within the framework of the impotence principles of evolutionary science; that is, the psychological need, or wish, for the world to be unbounded is challenged by:
-the impotence of Lamarckian beliefs in the face of Mendelian genetics;
-the impotence of Liberal beliefs in egalitarian results in the face of the inescapableness of biological competition in a world with limited resources and mates;
-the impotence of those who seek to eliminate all waste in the face of the success of Darwinian selection operating on genetic/cultural wastewhat is usually called variation (pp. 306-310).
The discussion of competition is classic in that it is uncompromisingly grounded in science yet Hardin points out how one can make competition more humane: competition « cannot be escaped; it can only be altered in the form it takes » (p. 252). He does not commit the « naturalistic fallacy » of arguing from « is » to « ought. » While « we can never eliminate competition, » Garrett states that we can change the rules somewhat and the pay-off:
Competition is to be found in the subdued and pious Quaker meeting just as surely as it is on the bloodiest of battlefields. The device of love may be found in its arsenal side by side with weapons of steel. Our problem is not to avoid the unavoidable-competition-but to choose our weapons. In seeking the means that are most commensurate with human comfort, pleasure and dignity we cannot necessarily trust first impressions or traditional moral standards. We will need the deepest insights of psychology and anthropology to enable us to choose well (p. 255).
Competition for resources can take many forms. Consequently Professor Hardin pointed out:
The elimination of warfare by military means is tolerable only in a world that has outlawed reproductive warfare. The competitive use of human gonads in a pacificistic world is every bit as vicious and productive of suffering as is the militaristic use of atomic bombs (p. 322).
The generation and testing of new variations is important with respect to both genes and ideas. Hardin stresses the importance of free speech within a community and the freedom to err (p. 323) as they are the ultimate source of new ideas and combinations of ideas upon which selection can operate to produce progress. Progress in science and technology can be used to improve the human condition.
Hardin concludes with asking, « How is man to control his own evolution? » The difficulty is the greater because too many individuals deny the reality of human evolution occurring through natural, or Darwinian, selection. Hardin points out that the reality and importance of selection « is temporarily obscured by the increasing of the size of the feast world fisheries and agricultural yield through technological advances, but the increase is only a passing phase which must soon come to an end » (pp. 337-338).
While many of us appreciated the critical scientific thinking that is the hallmark of Nature and Man’s Fate, the book was not that well received by the academic community. Garrett Hardin has always been guilty of the crime of being a critical thinker who can express ideas far more clearly than most. But he was also guilty of another, emotionally more important, error: discussion of too many socially taboo subjects at one time-all in one book!! Fortunately Nature and Man’s Fate was liked well enough that it was republished in a paperback edition.
Garrett now became an active stalker of those taboos he had discussed in Nature and Man’s Fate. One strategy that he employed was to locate and reprint numerous important writings in Population, Evolution and Birth Control: A Collage of Controversial Readings, which first appeared in 1964. Many of the writings that were to play so important a role in the intellectual development of Hardin’s 1968 essay « The Tragedy of the Commons » were collected here.
For example, Garrett gave new life to Kenneth Boulding’s summary of the dismal and utterly dismal theorems of economics, which point out that technology cannot provide more than just a temporary solution for population/resources/environment problems:
. . . the famous dismal theorem of economics . . . if the only check on the growth of population is starvation and misery, then no matter how favorable the environment or how advanced the technology the population will grow until it is miserable and starves. The theorem, indeed, has a worse corollary which has been described as the utterly dismal theorem. This is the proposition that if the only check on the growth of population is starvation and misery, then any technological improvement will have the ultimate effect of increasing the sum of human misery, as it permits a larger population to live in precisely the same state of misery and starvation as before the change . . . (Boulding, 1956 in Hardin, 1969, p. t31).
The passages from William Lloyd’s discussion of the problems of resource management on the English commons and from Charles Galton Darwin’s summary of how the use of contraceptives by some of the population generates selection for homo progenetivictus replacing homo contraceptiens are also reprinted in Population, Evolution and Birth Control (Hardin, 1964, 1969).
C. G. Darwin’s analysis provided inspiration for Garrett’s (1963a) thoughts concerning « A Second Sermon of the Mount, » in which he enunciated the principle « Blessed are the women that are irregular, for their daughters shall inherit the earth. » Professor Hardin pointed out that the rhythm method of birth control is self-defeating: « If there is even a tiny hereditary element in their irregularity (as there surely must be), natural selection would then ultimately produce a world populated only by irregular women. Tidings of Darwin should be carried to Rome » (Hardin, 1963a, p. 371). Garrett, armed with selection theory, has been more than just a taboo stalker. He is one of the best scientific slayers of poorly thought-out political/theological ideas our generation has produced.
GARRETT HARDIN BECOMES AN ACTIVIST
James Newman’s book review of Abortion in the United States published in the January 1959 issue of Scientific American greatly affected Dr. Hardin’s professional and personal life (Hardin, 1973). His interest in birth control made the abortion taboo a natural subject.
The autumn 1963 day after Garrett delivered his first public lecture on abortion-an analysis and recommendations for abortion reform-in a
University of California (Santa Barbara-UCSB) lecture attended by more than 900 persons, Garrett began receiving telephone calls from women seeking help in obtaining a safe abortion. Garrett became an agent in the underground railroad for women seeking safe abortions. He also became a member of the board of National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, which was instrumental in bringing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case which made anti-abortion laws unconstitutional, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Looking back in 1983, Garrett noted that, « Abortion sure altered my life, because I’d never intended to be an activist » (Hardin, 1982, pp. 5-11).
Garrett became the intellectual spokesman for the abortion reform movement as the result of his UCSB « Abortion and Human Dignity » lecture. It was reprinted by the Society for Humane Abortion after he gave essentially the same lecture at the University of California (Berkeley UCB) in 1964. Garrett wrote other papers advocating abortion reform (Hardin, 1967, 1968a) as well as the book Mandatory Motherhood: The True Meaning of « Right to Life » (I 974b).
One question asked over and over again was, « When does life begin? » Garrett would reply that biologists think that life began more than two billion years ago; but now life is merely passed on from one cell to another. The question we should ask and answer is, « When do we want to call it a human life? » Human personhood is more than just life. Garrett drew an analogy between an architect’s blueprints and the information contained in DNA.
Dr. Hardin published his most recent views on the subject of abortion in 1982. He also was a supporter of the amicus curiae brief filed in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services by Population-Environment balance and seven other environmental groups (Lassow, 1989). In this 1989 case, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of a Missouri law restricting access to abortion.
Tragedy of the Commons
The Centennial celebration of the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1959 led Charles’ grandson, Charles Galton Darwin (1960), to apply his grandfather’s theory of adaptive evolution by selection to predict that voluntary population control policies select for their own failure. Garrett Hardin, impressed with both the scientific logic and the political implications of C. G. Darwin’s insight, developed a more general ecological version of these principles in a paper entitled « The Tragedy of the Commons » (Hardin, 1968b).
It has been said that the road to confusion is paved with metaphors.
Nonetheless, short pithy phrases can dramatize problems and focus attention on the costs and benefits of proposed solutions. Professor Hardin invented the metaphoric tragedy of the commons in an attempt to communicate the need to modify the ethical basis of our decision-making if we are to adequately cope with our population/resources/pollution problems.
Dr. Hardin used the tragedy of the commons metaphor to describe the human misery that is predicted to ultimately occur whenever the right of a person or group to use a resource held in common is not matched by an operational responsibility to care for the resource (or the consequences of using the resources). The commons owned by English villages and available for all citizens to graze their cattle was proposed as the classic example of a commons. For the purposes of metaphor, rules governing the use of this commons were stated as: first, each herdsman may pasture as many cattle as he wishes on the commons; and second, the benefit from the growth of the cattle goes to the individual owners of the cattle.
In such an unmanaged commons, one or more herdsmen seek to maximize their private gain by adding cows to the herd. Ultimately this causes the herd to reach the population size at which the carrying capacity of the pasture is damaged by overgrazing and the resulting environmental deterioration brings ruin to all. Thus rational behavior at the individual level leads to tragic consequences for the community as a whole.
Professor Hardin (1977) points out that the unmanaged commons is but one of four political systems for distributing the costs and benefits of using environmental resources. He compares consequences of the unmanaged or poorly managed commons with the outcomes of privatism (where individually/corporately produced costs such as ecologically damaging wastes cannot be socialized), socialism (defined by Hardin as an adequately managed commons) and altruism (which is interesting but unworkable as long as there are individuals in the population working in their own self interest). The unmanaged or poorly managed commons enables individuals or groups to privatize the benefits while socializing the costs of using finite resources. It is a selective system that rewards the very persons or groups that increase the rate at which they (and/or their descendants) use commonly held resources.
Consequently the rate at which a finite resource is used increases and ultimately becomes so great that it approaches and soon exceeds the carrying capacity of the environment, i.e., the maximum population size that the environment can sustain over extended time. The carrying capacity can be decreased by human behaviors that result in soil erosion or pollution (acid rain for example). An illusion that the carrying capacity of our environments have permanently increased is created when fixed supplies of fossil fuels are depleted and renewable biological resources are harvested at a rate faster than they are being regenerated-as is presently occurring.
Crowding sets the stage for the tragedy of the commons to occur. Growth in our numbers or growth in our affluent lifestyles or some combination of both generate environmental stress which exceeds the carrying capacity of the environment, causing a deterioration in the future carrying capacity.
One need only assume that at least some human beings are egotists operating in their own self-interest for cultural selection to produce tragedy in an unmanaged commons. Selfish behavior in such a system is rewarded with benefits. The unmanaged commons establishes a social system that selects for its own failure, that is, for the adoption by other individuals of very selfish behavior that ultimately brings about tragedy.
Societies that try to regulate the use of resources in a commons by appealing to conscience (« voluntarism » or « jawbone responsibility ») merely generate selection favoring people who either do not have a social conscience or have consciences that tell them to do otherwise-individuals who, to use the words of Henry David Thoreau, march to a different drummer. In other words, appeals to conscience in a commons sets up a selective system that favors the reproduction of the ideas and genes of those individuals who reject society’s pleas to voluntarily control the rate at which they (and their descendants) use resources held in common. The tragic effects of cultural selection for individual behaviors that abuse the environment become so great that the question is not whether society should abandon the commons political system but rather when and how. Professor Hardin concludes that the poorly managed/unmanaged commons must be abandoned in favor either of privatism or socialism where the commons is managed in ecologically sustainable ways.
One of the most controversial of Dr. Hardin’s conclusions deals with human reproduction. Since the effect of coupling « the concept of freedom to breed with the belief that everyone born has an equal right to the commons » locks « the world into a tragic course of action, » Hardin contends that the commons system with respect to childbearing has to be abandoned also (Hardin, 1972, pp. 188-189).
The private enterprise system of childbearing and childbearing generates so much misery among innocent children that Professor Hardin does not consider it to be an ethically acceptable option for modern societies. Consequently, he contends that a society which has been guaranteeing the survival, health and education of children must also have the power to decide how many children shall be born. In others words, societies will ultimately have to adopt coercive policies if they are to succeed in producing individual reproductive responsibility. The kind of coercion Hardin envisions is mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people affected (Hardin, 1968b, 1972, 1977, 1985).
Just how successful has Professor Hardin been in breaking the social taboo on publicly applying selection theory to human problems? If one measures success by the number of times the « Tragedy of the Commons » has been cited (Anonymous, 1979), the number of times it has been reprinted in anthologies, or that in 1971 the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study made it into an educational movie starring Garrett, or that it has made Garrett famous, the answer is very successful.
When one measures Dr. Hardin’s success by the extent to which other scholars have been motivated to apply Darwinian selectionist logic to human problems of resource use, the answer is that few have been willing to publicly apply it. Study of the cultural evolution of ideas and/or genetic evolution of DNA is not taboo, but application to carrying capacity problems is. Sociobiologists who specialize in applying selection theory to the evolution of behavior rarely, if ever, mention Charles Calton Darwin’s application of selection theory nor Garrett Hardin’s more popular and more general « Tragedy of the Commons » version. Only one author (Bajema, 1978), in the three volume Encyclopedia of Bioethics, discusses the tragedy of the commons selectionist logic and its implications for policies that rely on voluntarism.
The tragedy of the commons selectionist logic has been most frequently applied to the management of such natural resources as fisheries, forests and pollutable reservoirs such as air and water (Baden and Stroup, 1977; Clark, 1973; McCay & Acheson, 1987; Repetto & Gillis, 1989). Professors John Baden and Garrett Hardin teamed up to edit Managing the Commons (1977), a book which draws attention to ecological and political consequences of cultural selection for the particular resource-using behaviors which are generated by particular political systems.
Professor Hardin, through his numerous lectures, essays and books (Hardin, 1972, 1973, 1977,1978, 1985; Hardin and Baden, 1977), has had and will continue to have a major impact on analysis of political problems. For example, Professor Hardin (1963, p. 80) replaced the rather naive ecological statement that « everything is connected to everything else » with one sentence that virtually demands that one search any action or inaction for its unintended effects. This sentence, « WE CAN NEVER DO MERELY ONE THING, » is so powerful a stimulus to ecologically important thinking that the editors of Fortune Magazine wrote:
If a prize were to be awarded for the most illuminating single sentence authored in the past ten years, one of the candidates would surely be Hardin’s Law … It says, with deceptive simplicity, « You can never do merely one thing. » This is something like a very clean glass door-you’re not sure at first glance whether anything is there. But those seven seemingly casual words express a profound truth about human affairs (Editors, 1974, p. 56).
Since « we can never do merely one thing, » Dr. Hardin contends that we need to be asking the question « AND THEN WHAT? » over and over again to more accurately estimate the consequences-intended and other-of what we do. The question « AND THEN WHAT » highlights the value of selectionist theory for evaluating the results of managing renewable and nonrenewable resources under alternate political systems.
Scholars have an obligation to summarize and evaluate the current version of a theory that a scientist is advocating. Garrett Hardin incorporated the fact that there are two kinds of commons-a « managed commons », a form of socialism where resources either can be managed in an ecologically sustainable way or ecologically mismanaged, and an « unmanaged commons », a form of socialism which selects the very behavior that leads to tragic outcomes-into his theory more than ten years ago (Hardin, 1977, Hardin and Baden, 1977). Yet scholars persist in criticizing outdated, or their own misinterpretations of Hardin’s application of selectionist logic (Cox, 1985; McCay & Acheson, 1987; Reader, 1988). One misconception is that selection will operate to bring tragedy only if every individual is an egotist operating in his own self-interest. Not so; but such behavior does quickly spread because selection in voluntarist systems favors « cheaters. » (:heaters are rewarded with resources. Consequently, more and more individuals in a society adopt the ecologically unsustainable cheater behavior and the tragedy results.
Those wishing to evaluate Professor Hardin’s use of selectionist logic to predict how a particular political system will affect human behavior and use of resources should consult his 1985 book Filters Against Folly. There, for example, they will read about the DOUBLE C-DOUBLE P game, the tragic distribution system that couples commonized costs with privatized profits and thus generates selection for its own failure.
DEVELOPING AN ENVIRONMENTALLY BASED HUMANIST ETHIC
Garrett Hardin has gone far beyond linking major political systems to the selective multiplication of resource-using behaviors which undermine the carrying capacity of the environment and thus the subsistence base of future generations. He proposes that we adopt a humanist environmental ethic based on comparing the consequences of a proposed action or inaction with the results from what currently is being done.
« In Praise of Waste, » the concluding chapter of Nature and Man’s Fate (1959), contains Professor Hardin’s first major discussion of an ideal humanist ethic. It is founded upon freedom of speech because this, among its other benefits, generates new ideas and combinations of ideas on which cultural selection can operate to bring about scientific and technological progress. The following passage, an echo of the conclusion of Darwin’s Origin of Species, concludes Nature and Man’s Fate:
We know now that a completely planned heaven is either impossible or unbearable. We know that it is not true that design can come only out of planning. Out of luxuriant waste, winnowed by selection, come designs more beautiful and in greater variety than ever man could plan. This is the lesson of Nature that Darwin has spelled out for us. Man, now that he makes himself, cannot do better than to emulate Nature’s example in allowing for waste and encouraging novelty. There is grandeur in this view of life as a complex of cybernetic systems that produce adaptedness without foresight, design without planning, and progress without dictation. From the simplest means, man, now master of his own fate, may evolve societies of a variety and novelty-yes, and even of a beauty-that no man living can now forsee (p. 346).
The failure of both laissez faire capitalism and classic Marxism in avoiding ecological degradation and resulting tragic consequences for future generations of humans beings led Professor Hardin to propose a fundamental extension in morality. In « The Tragedy of the Commons, » he developed a secular ethics that takes into account that at least some individuals operate in their own self-interest (exactly what one would expect on the basis of Darwinian adaptive evolution by selection theory) and that places the actions of individuals in an ecological context. The ecological ethic Hardin champions is system-sensitive to the state of the environment at the time the moral value of any particular action/inaction is determined. Professor Hardin expanded the situation-based humanist ethics developed by the theologian Joseph Fletcher to include ecological effects on individuals in the future-other individuals in present and future generations. Hardin’s ecologically based consequentialist ethic uses the following rule: action/inaction is determined to be moral or immoral on the basis of its consequences not merely for the current participants but for individuals in the future.
Garrett Hardin expanded, revised and updated his ideas concerning ethics in Exploring New Ethics for Survival: The Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle (1972x), where he inserted scientific logic within the framework of a science-fiction parable to help his fellow citizens understand the momentous questions that are involved in population control, a problem that he contends can be solved only by restricting some human freedoms in order to preserve others.
The short time span and selfish dimensions of much of traditional ethics led Professor Hardin (1974c) to add a phrase to the theologian Martin Buber’s classic « I-Thou » frame of reference. The ethical frame of reference that Dr. Hardin champions is « I-Thou AND THIN WHAT? » Garrett Hardin applied the « tough love » logic of triage to foreign aid in his 1974 essay on « Lifeboat Ethics, » to which the editor of Psychology Today added the subtitle « The Case Against Helping the Poor » without consulting Dr. Hardin (1978,* p. 242). Professor Hardin is not opposed to providing the poor or anyone else with information that they can use to improve their situation. What Dr. Hardin realizes and his critics do not is that one cannot cure a cancer (overpopulation) by feeding it (foreign aid) or transporting some of its cells elsewhere (emigration).
Dr. Hardin had summarized the logic of his position fifteen years earlier, writing:
In the realm of inter-community affairs an analogous moral principle must be espoused-freedom to err. Within a single community there cannot be freedom of action for individual members. It will not do, for example, for a community that disapproves of murder, to wink at murder by individuals who want to be free. But, as between communities, there must be freedom for each community to determine its own moral principles. Other communities must be free not only to live morally (by our standards) but also to live immorally (again by our standards). Put bluntly, every community must be free to go to hell in its own way, so long as its action does not endanger the continued existence of other communities. A community must, for instance, enjoy the freedom to breed itself into a state of starvation, if it so wishes, without a finger being lifted elsewhere to interfere with its stupidity. To interfere, to save it from the consequences of its own immorality is but to postpone and aggravate the problem, and to spread the moral infection. By not interfering, however, we make it more probable that a community will see its error in time, will see that a moral principle of unlimited reproduction is incompatible with the principle of unlimited use of medicine in the prevention of crowd diseases. If we have any responsibility at all with respect to other communities, it is only because we ourselves failed in the past to see the cultural incompatibility of the above-mentioned principles and freely gave of our medicine without at the same time seeing to it that gift was coupled with the principle of birth limitation (1959, pp. 323-324).
*Second edition of Stalking the Wild Taboo
On numerous occasions Professor Hardin (1979, p. 1; 1981, p. 45,) has contended that what we need are « thinking rather than bleeding hearts, » and that each nation has the moral obligation to become selfreliant. (Note, Dr. Hardin did not say « self-sufficient »). Hardin encourages ecologically comprehensive thought by championing the « sanctity of the carrying capacity of the environment » as an ethical concept which is more humane in its consequences for human life than « sanctity of the individual » (Hardin, 1977; 1985).
In his 1982 essay « Ending the Squanderarchy, » Professor Hardin outlines some of the important ethical changes that a squanderarchy like the United States will have to make in order to become an ecologically sustainable conservationist society. Rather than expect the transition to come directly, Hardin is a « trend » pessimist: for the U.S. and other squanderarchies, the probable pathway to a conservationist society is through a dark age-a period of poverty and chaos before the more humane, ecologically sustainable state is reached.
Garrett Hardin’s efforts to find the most humane solution to the human ecological predicament led the American Humanist Association to choose him as recipient of the 1989 Humanist Distinguished Service Award.
We temporary fellow travelers on the Planet Earth are fortunate to have in our midst Garrett Hardin, a scholar who has spent most of his life helping citizens gain a better understanding of the implications that evolutionary processes have for their fate.
There are those shallow thinking optimists who merely extrapolate desirable trends (making some trends desirable by choosing the « appropriate » time frame) or contend that since humans have time and again proven their resourcefulness, they have the capacity to produce a technical fix that will solve every human problem.* In contrast, Dr. Hardin has developed a well-tested theory-driven humanist ethic that takes real world constraints into account. There are ecological limits to growth in the use of resources and pollution of the environment. The real world is inhabited by people who evolve under conditions which favor ideas and individuals that privatize profits and commonize costs. Consequently, political systems that attempt to regulate the use of resources by appeals to simple conscience produce tragic ecological consequences for human beings. Professor Hardin has not only drawn our attention to these problems but also has evaluated alternate ways for solving the ecological problems we face.
*See also critiques by Ehrlich & Ehrlich, 1982; and Daly, 1982 and in this volume.
If we human beings succeed in resolving our population/resources/ environment problems, it will be in large part because of having finally learned to use the ecological logic that Garrett Hardin has so ably championed. Only by asking and scientifically answering the question « And Then What? » can we meaningfully evaluate the consequences of choices that will determine if we are to survive with dignity on this planet_ In « The Tragedy of the Commons, » « Lifeboat Ethics, » « Do Trees Have Legal Standing?, » « Limits to Altruism, » « Carrying Capacity as an Ethical Concept, » « Squanderarchy » and other numerous essays Dr. Hardin has drawn our attention to the consequentialist, humanist dimensions of our population/ resources/environment crunch. His analysis of alternate ethical systems gives due weight to the rights of future generations.
It is appropriate that we honor Garrett Hardin for his contribution to the quality of human life on this planet in addition to celebrating with him his 75th birthday. His professional life has been a full one, enriched by his wife Jane, who also has served as an involved participant with whom Garrett « field tested » many of his thoughts. We honor Dr. Garrett Hardin, Professor Emeritus of Human Ecology, University of California at Santa Barbara, for helping us to become more-critical thinkers and more considerate of future generations, whose claims we lay alongside those who are alive today. The Earth and all the creatures on it now and in the future are truly fortunate to have such a literate, numerate and ecolate humanist champion as Garrett James Hardin.
HONORS AND AWARDS RECEIVED BY GARRETT JAMES HARDIN
1930 Chicago Daily News essay winner
1932 Scholarship, University of Chicago
1932 Scholarship, Chicago College of Music
1952-53 Ford Fellow, California Institute of Technology
1963 Professor of Human Ecology, University of California, Santa Barbara
1964 Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley
1964 Remson Bird Lecturer, Occidental College
1966 Faculty Research Lecturer, University of California, Santa Barbara
1970 Visiting professor, University of Chicago
1970 Nieuwland Lecturer, University of Notre Dame
1970-71 National Visiting Lecturer, Phi Beta Kappa
1972 Messenger Lecturer, Cornell University
1972-73 National Lecturer, Sigma Xi
1973 Hall of Fame Award, Friends of the Earth
1973 Elected Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1974 Elected Member of American Philosophical Society
1974 Aquinas Foundation Lecture, Drew University
1974 Tracey I. Storer Lecturer, University of California, Davis
1975 Elected Honorary Member, National Association of Biology Teachers
1975 Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree, University of Puget Sound
1975-76 Member, Advisory Committee of Ethical and Human Value Implications of Science and Technology, National Endowment for the Humanities/National Science Foundation
1976 Patten Foundation Lecturer, Indiana University
1977 Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Northland College
1978 Lecturer, Dartmouth College (chosen by students)
1979 Jesse and John Danz Lecturer, University of Washington 1980 Margaret Sanger Award, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
1986 Distinguished Service Award, American Institute of Biological Sciences
1987 Mack Lipkin Lecturer, American Museum of Natural History 1989 Humanist Distinguished Service Award, American Humanist Association
1990 Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform Award
1990 Population-Environment BALANCE Carrying Capacity Award
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