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The Tragedy of the Commons Science 13, December At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear war, J. 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.
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 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? Put another way, there is no "technical solution" to the problem.
I can win only by giving a radical meaning to the word "win. 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.October 14, , the 30 th annual awards ceremony of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund took place at the Asia Society in New York City.
Lu Guang (卢广) from People’s Republic of China won the $30, W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his documentary project “Pollution in China.”.
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