53 Ariz. L. Rev. 9 (2011). Eric R. Claeys, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law.
Michael Heller earned respect among property scholars in his 1998 article The Tragedy of the Anticommons: Property in the Transition from Marx to Markets. The conception of a “tragedy of the commons” had been popularized by Garrett Hardin in a 1968 article by that name. When ranchers have open access (a commons) to grass, their cattle tend to overeat it (the tragedy). Harold Demsetz provided the canonical economic response to tragedies of the commons: private property. Exclusive rights of control, use, and disposition (“exclusive possessory rights”) encourage owners to internalize externalities associated with the over-consumption of resources held in common.