It is generally recognized that emotional states induce impatience, in the sense of a heightened preference for early rewards over later rewards. In this article I argue that they also induce urgency, in the sense of a preference for early action over later action. I adduce scattered evidence for the existence of the phenomenon and sketch a possible experiment that might demonstrate it, while also noting that it may be hard to distinguish urgency-based action from action based on the anticipation (...) of the decay of emotion. (shrink)
Sur un problème classique - la possibilité du mal en connaissance de cause -, Jon Elster déploie toute la finesse et la puissance des outils philosophiques contemporains pour proposer un tableau complet des facteurs expliquant cette ...
Common sense suggests that it is always preferable to have more options than fewer, and better to have more knowledge than less. This provocative book argues that, very often, common sense fails. Sometimes it is simply the case that less is more; people may benefit from being constrained in their options or from being ignorant. The three long essays that constitute this book revise and expand the ideas developed in Jon Elster's classic study Ulysses and the Sirens. It is not (...) simply a new edition of the earlier book, though; many of the issues merely touched on before are explored here in much more detail. Elster shows how seemingly disparate examples which limit freedom of action reveal similar patterns, so much so that he proposes a new field of study: constraint theory. The book is written in Elster's characteristically vivid style and will interest professionals and students in philosophy, political science, psychology, and economics. (shrink)
In an earlier paper (Elster, 1989 a), I discussed the relation between rationality and social norms. Although I did mention the role of the emotions in sustaining social norms, I did not focus explicitly on the relation between rationality and the emotions. That relation is the main topic of the present paper, with social norms in a subsidiary part.
In this volume a diverse group of economists, philosophers, political scientists, and psychologists address the problems, principles, and practices involved in comparing the well-being of different individuals. A series of questions lie at the heart of this investigation: What is the relevant concept of well-being for the purposes of comparison? How could the comparisons be carried out for policy purposes? How are such comparisons made now? How do the difficulties involved in these comparisons affect the status of utilitarian theories? This (...) collection constitutes the most advanced and comprehensive treatment of one of the cardinal issues in social theory. (shrink)
The main theme in most of the contributions to the symposium on Making Sense of Marx is methodological individualism. In the first part of my reply I consider the objections raised to this, in my opinion, trivially true doctrine. Against Taylor I argue that social relations, seen in abstraction from their relata, have no causal efficacy. Against Wood I argue that my defence of methodological individualism and my criticism of functional explanation are less closely related than he makes them out (...) to be. Against Slaughter I argue that he holds two inconsistent views on the importance of individual desires and beliefs in social explanation. Against Meikle I argue that his view that entities are ?real natures? with a normal path of development needs to be restated in terms of dynamically stable processes. In the second part of the reply I deal with the individual contributions one by one. The replies to the ?fundamentalist Marxists? Slaughter and Meikle are relatively brief, because of the dismissive, unscholarly nature of their comments. Similarly I do not have much to say to North and Taylor, whose brief comments do not contain much with which to disagree. I reply at greater length to Wood, conceding the point he makes in the last section of his comment but rejecting his argument concerning functional explanation. (shrink)
The essays in this volume consider the question of whether the self is a unity or whether it should be conceived without metaphor as divided - as a 'multiple self'. The issue is a central one for several disciplines. It bears directly on the account of rationality and the explanation of individual decision-making and behaviour. Is the hypothesis of a multiple self required to deal with the problems of self-deception and weakness of will; and can the conceptual tools developed in (...) the study of interpersonal conflict be applied to the analysis of intra-personal struggle? Most of the essays, by a number of leading philosophers, psychologists and economists, appear here for the first time. They bring out the interdisciplinary importance of the question, and will interest readers in all those areas. The volume will also usefully supplement The Foundations of Social Choice Theory, edited by Jon Elster and Aanund Hylland, which appears in the same series and is also concerned with the foundations of rationality. (shrink)
Sour Grapes aims to subvert orthodox theories of rational choice through the study of forms of irrationality. Dr Elster begins with an analysis of the notation of rationality, to provide the background and terms for the subsequent discussions, which cover irrational behaviour, irrational desires and irrational belief. These essays continue and complement the arguments of Jon Elster's earlier book, Ulysses and the Sirens. That was published to wide acclaim, and Dr Elster shows the same versatility here in drawing on philosophy, (...) political and social theory, decision-theory, economics and psychology, as well as history and literature. (shrink)
I am most grateful that the Editor of Inquiry has invited these scholars to comment upon my Logic and Society (hereafter LS). The symposiasts have acutely singled out a number of statements in my book that are wrong, incomplete or ambiguous. They also provide important further suggestions, supplementing my own ideas in fertile ways. And at times they fail to understand what I was trying to do, or they advance objections that I cannot accept. I shall first react to a (...) general point raised in several of the papers, and then deal with each paper in turn. (shrink)