viktor j. vanberg Adam Smith and the other Scottish moral philosophers who founded the modern tradition of individualist social thought expected an improvement in the human social condition not from an improvement in men's nature but from their capability to adopt rules and institutions that guide their advantage-seeking dispositions--which the Scots regarded as an unalterable part of human nature--into socially productive channels. Being well aware of the fact that humans can seek their advantage at the expense of others as well as through mutually advantageous cooperation, they saw the challenge of organizing a civilized society in finding ways and means to discourage the first and encourage the latter. With its interest in the question of how "fallible human beings [can] achieve and sustain self-governing . . . ways of life,"1 the Bloomington research program is very much in this tradition. And with her research on "how to manage commons," Elinor Ostrom focuses on a class of problems where the task of finding institutional devices to foster mutually beneficial cooperation is particularly challenging. Managing common pool resources requires "efforts of individuals and groups to organize and solve social dilemmas,"2 and sustaining such efforts is a more demanding task than
The Good Society – Penn State University Press
Published: Sep 28, 2011
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