Rational choice theory considered as psychology and moral philosophy

This article attempts to assess Jon Elster's contribution to rational choice in Ulysses and the Sirens and Sour Grapes. After reviewing Elster's analysis of functional versus intentional explanations, the essay moves on to the crucial distinction between the thin and broad theories of rationality. The former elabo rates on the traditional economist's preference / feasible set apparatus; the latter is the more demanding theory which inquires into the rationality of beliefs and preferences. Elster's approach to the broad theory normally consists in using the thin theory as a reference point and in making purposefully limited departures from it. The essay illustrates the method while commenting on Elster's discus sion of autonomous preferences in Sour Grapes. It goes on to stress some impor tant analogies between Elster's use of the thin and broad theories, on one hand, and Weber's ideal-typical method, on the other. The final assessment is phrased in terms of these analogies; it is suggested that Elster is at his best when the ideal-typical method and his own separate from each other, that is, when he comes to grips with the broad theory in its own terms.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/004839319102100101
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 26,804
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Tools-Я-Us.Jonathan B. King - 1994 - Journal of Business Ethics 13 (4):243 - 257.
Tools-?-Us.Jonathan B. King - 1994 - Journal of Business Ethics 13 (4):243-257.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Monadic Marxism: A Critique of Elster's Methodological Individualism.Douglas Moggach - 1991 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 21 (1):38-63.
Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality.Jon Elster - 1983 - Editions De La Maison des Sciences De L'Homme.
The Impossibility of Rational Politics?Peter Stone - 2003 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 2 (2):239-263.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

58 ( #89,385 of 2,158,948 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #192,841 of 2,158,948 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums