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Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences [Paperback]

Jon Elster
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 28, 1989 0521376068 978-0521376068 1ST
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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Editorial Reviews

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

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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1ST edition (July 28, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521376068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521376068
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written summary of Elster's main themes. November 20, 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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corner stone of social science May 24, 2002
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.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read... February 9, 2006
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
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply put- indispensible October 27, 1999
By A Customer
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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