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Explaining Social Behavior
More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences

2nd Edition

$34.99 (P)

  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107416413

$ 34.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Includes substantially revised and updated material throughout, with a wholly new chapter and a new conclusion
    • Offers an informal yet sophisticated introduction to the social sciences, featuring case studies and experiments that illustrate the variety and complexity of human motivations
    • Proposes choice as the central concept of the social sciences, addressing the nature of both rational and irrational choice
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "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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    Product details

    • Edition: 2nd Edition
    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107416413
    • length: 516 pages
    • dimensions: 239 x 165 x 53 mm
    • weight: 0.75kg
    • contains: 43 b/w illus. 8 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Explanation and Mechanisms:
    1. Explanation
    2. Mechanisms
    3. Interpretation
    Part II. The Mind:
    4. Motivations
    5. Self-interest and altruism
    6. Myopia and foresight
    7. Beliefs
    8. Emotions
    9. Transmutations
    Part III. Action:
    10. Constraints: opportunities and abilities
    11. Reinforcement and selection
    12. Persons and situations
    13. Rational choice
    14. Rationality and behavior
    15. Responding to irrationality
    16. Implications for textual interpretation
    Part IV. Interaction:
    17. Unintended consequences
    18. Strategic interaction
    19. Games and behavior
    20. Trust
    21. Social norms
    22. Collective belief formation
    23. Collective action
    24. Collective decision making
    25. Institutions and constitutions
    Conclusion: is social science possible?

  • Author

    Jon Elster, Collège de France, Paris
    Jon Elster is Robert K. Merton Professor of Social Science at Columbia University, New York and Professeur Honoraire at the Collège de France. He is the author or editor of thirty-four books, most recently Agir contre soi: la faiblesse de volonté (2007), Le désintéressement: traité critique de l'homme économique (2009), Alexis de Tocqueville: The First Social Scientist (Cambridge, 2009), L'irrationalité (2010) and Securities against Misrule: Juries, Assemblies, Elections (Cambridge, 2013).

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