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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen, Volume 2Society, Institutions, and Development$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239979.001.0001

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Engaging with Impossibilities and Possibilities †

Engaging with Impossibilities and Possibilities †

Chapter:
(p.522) Chapter 28 Engaging with Impossibilities and Possibilities
Source:
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen, Volume 2
Author(s):

Elinor Ostrom (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239979.003.0029

Upon thinking deeply about Kenneth Arrow's ‘Impossibility Theorem’, Amartya Sen advises scholars not to despair, but to engage seriously the impossibility result so that we understand it better and know how to cope with the problems identified. This chapter follows Sen's advice. It engages another impossibility result — that of Garrett Hardin who convinced many economists and policy analysts that it was impossible for those harvesting from a resource to self-organize to sustain that resource over time. The chapter briefly reviews evidence from field and experimental research that challenge the generalizability of Hardin's result. It then presents a theoretical argument for the factors affecting the likelihood that the users of common-pool resource will self-organized to develop new rules restrict how a common-pool resource should be used.

Keywords:   common-pool resources, collective action, social dilemmas, tragedy of the commons, Kenneth Arrow, Impossibility Theorem, Garrett Hardin

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