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  • Cited by 112
  • 2nd edition
  • Jon Elster, Collège de France, Paris
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Book description

In this new edition of his critically acclaimed book, Jon Elster examines the nature of social behavior, proposing choice as the central concept of the social sciences. Extensively revised throughout, the book offers an overview of key explanatory mechanisms, drawing on many case studies and experiments to explore the nature of explanation in the social sciences; an analysis of the mental states - beliefs, desires, and emotions - that are precursors to action; a systematic comparison of rational-choice models of behavior with alternative accounts, and a review of mechanisms of social interaction ranging from strategic behavior to collective decision making. A wholly new chapter includes an exploration of classical moralists and Proust in charting mental mechanisms operating 'behind the back' of the agent, and a new conclusion points to the pitfalls and fallacies in current ways of doing social science, proposing guidelines for more modest and more robust procedures.


'After donning, for the first edition of this book, his shining analytical armor to illuminate what obscurantists desperately don’t want you to see, Jon Elster is on the attack again. Spurred in equal measure by a ceaseless desire to improve his own analyses and by 'the alarming rise of nonsense masquerading as scholarship', he has produced a fortified new edition, adding to and refining the previous material.'

Diego Gambetta - European University Institute, Florence

'This is a delightfully engaging book by one of the best thinkers of our age. Elster offers illuminating insights into a wide variety of fundamental psychological and social phenomena. Always charming as well as lucid, in this superb new edition Elster gives intriguing answers to fascinating questions.'

Kent Berridge - University of Michigan

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