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Sour Grapes
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  • Cited by 248
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Book description

Sour Grapes aims to subvert orthodox theories of rational choice through the study of forms of irrationality. Dr Elster begins with an analysis of the notation of rationality, to provide the background and terms for the subsequent discussions, which cover irrational behaviour, irrational desires and irrational belief. These essays continue and complement the arguments of Jon Elster's earlier book, Ulysses and the Sirens. That was published to wide acclaim, and Dr Elster shows the same versatility here in drawing on philosophy, political and social theory, decision-theory, economics and psychology, as well as history and literature.


‘I cannot imagine anyone interested in the philosophy of the social sciences who could fail to profit from and be stimulated by this book.’

Flint Schier Source: Philosophical Books

‘Elster is an extremely impressive writer, at home in several languages and in a wide range of scholarly discourses, from philosophy, through game theory, parts of economics and psychology, to literary criticism. He writes attractively and inventively …’

Mary K. Farmer Source: The Economic Journal

‘What makes [Elster] distinctive is a combination of philosophical acuity and detailed attention to contemporary work in history, the social sciences and cognitive psychology … When Elster is at the top of his form the general ideas form the framework for the argument which is itself actually carried to great extent through the use of examples. This is hard to convey in a review. But it is what gives Elster’s work its uniquely attractive quality. I would defy anyone to read, in particular, the second chapter of Sour Grapes without being charmed by the play of a subtle intellect in a remarkable range of materials.’

Brian Barry Source: The London Review of Books

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