H. Scott Gordon

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H. Scott Gordon (1924–2019) was a Canadian economist. He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His seminal 1954 article Economic Theory of a Common Property Resource: The Fishery marked the beginning of the modern economics study of fisheries.[1] He spent most of his career teaching and writing in the history and philosophy of economics, including the books Welfare, Justice, and Freedom (1980),[2] The History and Philosophy of Social Science (1991),[3] and Controlling the State: Constitutionalism from Ancient Athens to Today (2002).

Teaching career[edit]

Gordon began his teaching career at Carleton University (then Carleton College) in Ottawa. He helped found the Economics Department at Carleton University and chaired the department from 1948 to 1966. Gordon taught at Indiana University from 1966 to 1988. He chaired the Economics Department at IU from 1970 to 1973. Gordon had a split appointment with the History and Philosophy of Science Department from 1983 to 1988. He taught summer courses in the history of economic theory at Queen's University from 1970 until 1996. [4]

The Tragedy of the Commons[edit]

Scott's most well-known and seminal research on the tragedy of the commons was found in a 1954 Journal of Political Economy paper The Economic Theory of Common Property Resource: The Fishery. The role of individual fishing quotas (IFQs) also known as "individual transferable quotas" (ITQs) was shown by Gordon in his original research about fishing economics.[5][6]

Honors and legacy[edit]

Gordon's students included Margaret Schabas,[7] and J. Alfred Broaddus.[8] In Welfare, Property Rights and Economic Policy - Essays and Tributes in Honour of H. Scott Gordon by T.K. Rymes the author celebrates Gordon as one of "Canada's most distinguished social scientist and economics scholars."[9] Rymes' book was cited in the International Journal of Transport Economics(1993).[10] Gordon was a Guggenheim Fellow for the academic year 1964–1965.[11] For the period of 1977-1978, Gordon served as President of the Canadian Economics Association.[12] His papers are in an archival repository at Indiana University. John Davis of Marquette University reviewed History of Philosophy of Social Science by H.Scott Gordon in the Southern Economic Journal.[13]


  1. ^ Bjorndal, Trond; Munro, Gordon (2012). The economics and management of world fisheries (1st ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0199576753.
  2. ^ Gordon, H. Scott (1980). Welfare, justice, and freedom. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231049765.
  3. ^ Gordon, Scott (1991). The History and Philosophy of Social Science. Routledge. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  4. ^ "H. Scott Gordon papers, 1947-1993, (bulk 1966-1992)". Archives Online at Indiana University.
  5. ^ Cochran, Jr., David M.; Reese, Carl A. (Spring 2012). Southeastern Geographer. University of North Carolina Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0807872581. Evidence about IFQ systems began with H.Scott Gordon's (1954) seminal effort in the understanding of fishing economics. Gordon demonstrated why open access fisheries often perform poorly in economic terms . . . .
  6. ^ "Where Pope Francis Got It Wrong". Newsweek. 1 October 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  7. ^ Schabas, Margaret; Wennerlind, Carl (2008). David Hume's Political Economy. ISBN 978-1134362509.
  8. ^ "Al Broaddus Economic Keynote Speaker". Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  9. ^ Rymes, T.K. "Welfare, Property Rights and Economic Policy - Essays and Tributes in Honor of H. Scott Gordon". Cambridge Press.
  10. ^ Rymes, T. K. "Vol. 20, No. 3, OCTOBER 1993 of International Journal of Transport Economics / Rivista internazionale di economia dei trasporti on JSTOR". www.jstor.org. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Howard Scott Gordon". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
  12. ^ "Organizational History, 1967-2018". Canadian Economics Association. Archived from the original on 2016-02-26. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  13. ^ Published version. Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 59, No. 4 (April 1993): 835-836. DOI. © 1993 Southern Economic Association. Used with permission