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Explaining Social Behavior


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Table of Contents

Preface; 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?; Index.

Promotional Information

A substantially revised edition of Jon Elster's critically acclaimed book exploring the nature of social behavior and the social sciences.

About the Author

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


'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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