Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences

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9780511812255: Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences

This book is intended as an introductory survey of the philosophy of the social sciences. It is essentially a work of exposition that offers a tool box of mechanisms--nuts and bolts, cogs and wheels--that can be used to explain complex social phenomena. Within a brief compass, Jon Elster covers a vast range of topics. His point of departure is the conflict we all face between our desires and our opportunities. How can rational choice theory help us understand our motivation and behavior? More significantly, what happens when the theory breaks down but we still cleave to a belief in the power of the rational? Elster describes the fascinating range of forms of irrationality--wishful thinking, the phenomenon of sour grapes, discounting the future in non-cooperative behavior. He shows how these issues bear directly on our lives in such concrete situations as wage bargaining, economic cartels, political strikes, voting in elections, and court decisions involving child custody.

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Book Description:

An introductory survey of the philosophy of the social sciences stresses the relevancy of irrationality in wage bargaining, economic cartels, political strikes, election voting and certain court decisions.

About the Author:

Jon Elster is Professor and Chaire de Rationalite et Sciences Sociales at the College de France. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, he is a recipient of fellowships from The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation, among many others. Dr Elster has taught at the University of Chicago and Columbia University and has held visiting professorships at many universities in the United States and in Europe. He is the author and editor of thirty-four books, most recently Closing the Books: Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective, Elementary Social Science from an Advanced Standpoint, and Retribution and Restitution in the Transition to Democracy.

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