The Liberal Commons

85 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2000

See all articles by Hanoch Dagan

Hanoch Dagan

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law

Michael Heller

Columbia University - Columbia Law School

Date Written: September 2000


Must we choose between the benefits of cooperative use of scarce resources and our liberal commitments to autonomy and exit? No. Law can mediate community and liberty ? a theory of the liberal commons provides the bridge that reconciles these two seemingly contradictory imperatives. Liberal commons institutions enable a limited group of people to capture the economic and social benefits from cooperation, while also ensuring autonomy to individuals through a secure right to exit. This Article shows how current theories obscure the most salient tradeoffs in managing commons resources; details the liberal commons model comprising the decision-making spheres of individual dominion, democratic self-governance, and cooperation-enhancing exit; and presents a case study on declining black landownership that illustrates the power of our approach.

Suggested Citation

Dagan, Hanoch and Heller, Michael, The Liberal Commons (September 2000). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 110, 2001. Available at SSRN: or

Hanoch Dagan (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, IL
+972 3 640 7302 (Phone)

Michael Heller

Columbia University - Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

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