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Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences [Paperback]

Jon Elster
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 25.99
Price: 22.45 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

28 July 1989
This 1989 book is intended as an introductory survey of the philosophy of the social sciences. It is essentially a work of exposition which offers a toolbox 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 behaviour? 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 noncooperative behaviour. This is a remarkably lucid and comprehensive introduction to the social sciences for students of political science, philosophy, sociology and economics.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (28 July 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521376068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521376068
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.5 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 412,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"Elster's book is a success. It is lively, modest, thoughtful, and laced with the sort of vivid images that effectively make abstract ideas come alive." Economics and Philosophy

Book Description

In this 1989 book, Jon Elster's point of departure is the conflict we all face between our desires and our opportunities. He asks how rational choice theory can help us understand our motivation and behaviour, and what happens when the theory breaks down but we still cleave to a belief in the power of the rational.

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THE emphasis in this book is on explanation by mechanisms. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written summary of Elster's main themes. 20 Nov 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A very cogent summary of Elster's main themes: rationality and how one departs from it, especially from the static notion common in current rational choice theory. Anyone interested in rationality and departures from rationality--a topic much-ignored in current thinking and applications of rational choice theory-- should read this book. While I don't find that I agree with every conclusion Elster makes, he does make me think hard, which is about the best I ever expect.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written summary of Elster's main themes. 20 Nov 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A very cogent summary of Elster's main themes: rationality and how one departs from it, especially from the static notion common in current rational choice theory. Anyone interested in rationality and departures from rationality--a topic much-ignored in current thinking and applications of rational choice theory-- should read this book. While I don't find that I agree with every conclusion Elster makes, he does make me think hard, which is about the best I ever expect.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corner stone of social science 24 May 2002
By "axelaxe" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is an indispensible introduction to the social sciences. It should be used alongside with Deirdre McCloskey's Economical Writing and Wayne Booth's et al The Craft of Research. This trio of books provide the corner stones for any social science student: what it is, how to write it and how to do it.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read... 9 Feb 2006
By Mr. S. Ghosh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are absolutely anyone; an undergraduate student, a postgraduate student, a researcher, a Social Science scientist, or anyone from any field of life; who is just interested in knowing a few intricacies of the studies in rationality and subversions of rationality, collective behaviour of people, human rational and irrational behaviour and so on, but in a *SIMPLE* manner, read this one... One of the absolute best books on rationality/irrationality, available in the world of Social Sciences. Other than this, "Sour Grapes" by Elster and a couple of other books by Sen, Arrow, Coleman and others, are a MUST read for a comprehensive understanding of the subject of rational choice, individual interests, collective action and public-choice theory...

A must read... go for it.

Subhasish Ghosh

University of Oxford

9th Feb 2006
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply put- indispensible 27 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jon Elster has a long history of being one of the most usefull people in the social sciences. This book, despite its dull name, is wonderful.
Anyone interested in rational choice should make this a first stop- Elster's attempt isn't worth missing.
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