By Jon Elster
Publish 12 months note: First released January 1st 2000
An expanded and revised edition of the author's seriously acclaimed quantity Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. In twenty-six succinct chapters, Jon Elster offers an account of the character of clarification within the social sciences. He deals an outline of key explanatory mechanisms within the social sciences, counting on hundreds of thousands of examples and drawing on a wide number of resources - psychology, behavioral economics, biology, political technology, ancient writings, philosophy and fiction.
Written in obtainable and jargon-free language, Elster goals at accuracy and readability whereas eschewing formal types. In a provocative end, Elster defends the centrality of qualitative social sciences in a two-front struggle opposed to tender (literary) and tough (mathematical) types of obscurantism.
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Aristotle devotes books 8-9 of the Nicomachean Ethics to friendship, distinguishing 3 types: a chief variety encouraged by way of the other's personality; and other forms stimulated by way of software or excitement. he is taking up Plato's concept that one understands oneself greater as mirrored in another's eyes, as delivering one of many merits of friendship, and he additionally sees precise friendship as modelled on actual self-love. He extra compares friendship with justice, and illustrates the ubiquity of friendship by means of pertaining to the way we aid wayfarers as though they have been relations (oikeion), a notice he's taking from Plato's dialogue of affection. in lots of of those respects he most likely motivated the Stoic idea of justice as in response to the normal kinship (oikeiotes) one feels firstly for oneself at beginning and, ultimately, for misplaced wayfarers. Of the 3 commentaries translated the following, that by way of the second-century advert Aristotelian Aspasius is the earliest extant remark on Aristotle; the second one is by way of Michael of Ephesus within the 12th century; the 3rd is of unknown date and authorship. Aspasius concerns no matter if there's just one form of friendship with a unmarried definition. yet he plumps for a verdict now not given via Aristotle, that the first form of friendship serves as a focus for outlining the opposite . Aspasius alternatives up connections together with his Stoic contemporaries. Michael cites Christians and attracts from Neoplatonists the concept there's a self-aware a part of the soul, and that Aristotle observed participants as bundles of houses.
We will not communicate of a kingdom of struggle in any conventional experience, but there's presently no possible idea to account for the manifold inner conflicts, or civil wars, that more and more afflict the world's populations. intended as a primary step towards any such thought, Giorgio Agamben's most recent booklet appears to be like at how civil conflict used to be conceived of at an important moments within the background of Western suggestion: in historical Athens (from which the political suggestion of stasis emerges) and later, within the paintings of Thomas Hobbes.
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Additional info for Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences (Revised Edition)
It has been argued, for instance, that for every child who becomes alcoholic in response to an alcoholic environment, 4 To be sure, it is often said that the strength of altruistic feelings toward others varies inversely with their social distance from the agent. ’’ mechanisms 37 another eschews alcohol in response to the same environment. Both reactions embody mechanisms: doing what your parents do and doing the opposite of what they do. We cannot tell ahead of time what will become of the child of an alcoholic, but if he or she turns out either a teetotaler or an alcoholic we may suspect we know why.
The intellectual fallacy is to assume that a generalization valid for most cases is valid in each case. The moral fallacy is to treat an interlocutor as governed by biological mechanisms rather than as open to reason and argument. Although statistical explanations are always second best, in practice we may not be able to do any better. It is important to note, however, that they are inevitably guided by the first-best ideal of causal explanation. It appears to be a statistical fact that citizens in democracies live longer than citizens in nondemocratic regimes.
True, in many cases one and the same theory will enable us to do both, but I believe that in the social sciences this is the exception rather than the rule. 22 For instance, there is no plausible causal mechanism that should make us control for the population size of democratic and nondemocratic regimes. Although one cannot exclude a causal link between population size and average life span, social science has not established any such connection; nor can I imagine a noncontrived one. explanation 29 I postpone the main discussion of why we can have explanatory power without strong predictive power to the next chapter.