Learn English – A word that means beneficial for the individual or few but bad for everyone if everyone is doing it


I came across this word/concept when reading a philosophical book but I cannot remember where.
It basically means if only a few people do something its ok, but if everyone does it it becomes bad for everyone.

For example a good fishing hole. If only I or a few others go there, everyone benefits. If everyone goes then there are no fish and everyone loses.

The word has a meaning to do with reaching some tipping point. If a few are firemen, that's great, but if everyone was a fireman that's bad as nothing else will get done.

Best Answer

I think you mean "the tragedy of the commons". From Wikipedia:

[T]he tragedy of the commons is the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group's long-term best interests.