Books by Jon Elster

(in English)

Click on the title of the book to get more information
(covertexts, tables of contents, prefaces, reviews)
[ Non-English books | Recommended]

[ Books | Articles | Reviews | Index | The main menu ]

Ulysses Unbound
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Addiction: Entries and Exits
New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 310 pages

Strong Feelings: Emotion, Addiction, and Human Behavior
The MIT Press, 252 pages.

Alchemies of the Mind: Rationality and the emotions
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 416 pages.

Getting Hooked: Rationality and Addiction
(Edited by Jon Elster and Ole-Jørgen Skog)
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 296 pages.

Deliberative Democracy
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 282 pages.

Institutional Design in Post-Communist Societies: Rebuilding the Ship at Sea
(Theories of Institutional Design)
(Edited with Claus Offe and Ulrich Klaus Preuss)
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

The Round Table Talks in Eastern Europe
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Local Justice in America
New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 384 pages

The Ethics of Medical Choice
(Edited with Nicolas Herpin)
London: Pinter, 168 pages
Translation: French (original edition -1992)

Political Psychology
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 204 pages
Translations: French (original edition - 1990), Italian, Spanish

Choice over Time
(Edited with George Loewenstein)
New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 399 pages

Local Justice
How institutions allocate scarce goods and necessary burdens
New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 283 pages
Translations: Italian, Spanish

Interpersonal Comparisons of Well-being
(Edited with John Roemer)
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 400 pages

Alternatives to Capitalism
(Edited with Karl O. Moene)
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 179 pages
Translation: Korean

Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 184 pages
Translations: Greek, Italian, Japanese, Spanish

Solomonic Judgements
Studies in the limitations of rationality
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 232 pages
Translation: Spanish

The Cement of Society
A study of social order
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 311 pages
Translations: Italian, Spanish

Constitutionalism and Democracy
(Edited with Rune Slagstad)
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 359 pages
Translation: Bulgarian

An Introduction to Karl Marx
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 200 pages
Translations: Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish

Foundations of Social Choice Theory
(Edited with Aanund Hylland )
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 250 pages
Translation: Portuguese

Karl Marx, A Reader
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 345 pages

Rational Choice
Oxford: Blackwell, 266 pages

The Multiple Self
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 269 pages
Translation: Italian

Making Sense of Marx
Studies in Marxism and Social Theory
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 556 pages
Translation: French

Explaining Technical Change
A case study in the philosophy of science
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 273 pages
Translations: Italian, Spanish

Sour Grapes
Studies in the subversion of rationality
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 177 pages
Translations: French (partially), German (partially), Italian, Japnese, Spanish

Ulysses and the Sirens
Studies in rationality and irrationality
(second edition with corrections in 1984)
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 193 pages
Translations: French (partially), German (partially), Italian, Spanish

Logic and Society
Contradictions and possible worlds
Chichester: John Wiley, 235 pages
Translations: German and Spanish

[ Books | Articles | Reviews | Index | The main menu ]

Books by Elster (in languages other than English)

Note: The title in parenthesis is an almost direct translation of the non-english title.

Humanitet og virkelighetsoppfatning
(Humanity and the perception of reality)
Oslo, Aschehoug, 103 sider

Samfunn og frihet
En antologi ved Jon Elster
(Society and freedom: A collection of essays)
Oslo, Pax, 199 sider

Fra Marx til idag

Redigert sammen med Tom Rønnow
Oslo, Dreyer, 148 sider

Åndens fenomenologi
(The Phenomenology of Spirit, introduction, notes and translation by Jon Elster)
Oversettelse, introduksjon og noter ved Jon Elster
Oslo, Pax, 199 sider

De evige spørsmål - og vår tids svar
(The eternal questions - and the answers of our time)
Oslo, Pax, 123 sider

Essays om Hegel og Marx
(Essays on Hegel and Marx)
Oslo, Pax, 128 sider

Jeg var, Jeg er, Jeg blir: Rosa Luxemburg
(I was, I am, I will be: Rosa Luxemburg)
Oslo, Pax, 179 sider

Om Kapitalen
En introduksjon til Marx' hovedverk
(An introduction to Marx's "Das Kapital")
Oslo, Pax, 148 sider

Om begrepsdannelse i samfunnsvitenskapene
(Ideologies: About the formation of concepts in the social sciences)
Oslo, 209 sider

Nytt perspektiv på økonomisk historie
Problemer og metoder i en samfunnsvitenskap
(A new perspective on economic history
Problems and methods in a social science)
Oslo, Pax, 164 sider

Det distributive flertall
Et aspekt ved samfunnsvitenskapenes logikk og historie
(The distributive majority: An aspect of the logic and history of the social sciences)
Oslo, 240 sider

Økonomi og historie
(Economics and History)
Oslo, Pax, 78 sider

Marx i dag: Artikler
(Marx today: A collection of articles, edited)
Oslo, Gyldendal, 150 sider

De utro tjenere
Embetsverket i EF-kampen
(The disloyal servants: The bureaucracy in the Norwegian European Union debate of 1972)
Oslo, Pax, 95 sider

Økonomi og sosiologi
Noen grunnbegreper
(Economics and Sociology: Some key concepts)
Bergen, Forelesningsnotater, 189 sider

Leibniz et la formation de l'esprit capitaliste
Paris, Aubier-Montaigne, 253

Stat, organisasjon, klasse
Noen hovedretninger i moderne politisk filosofi
(The State, organization and class: Main schools in modern political philosophy)
Oslo, Pax, 141 sider

Noen utvalgte problemer
(The theory of science: Some selected problems)
Historisk institutt, Universitetet i Oslo, 132 sider

Om utbytting
(About exploitation)
Oslo, Pax, 128 sider

Rasjonalitet og rasjonalisme
Økonomi, filosofi og vitenskap
(Rationality : economics, philosophy and science)
Oslo, Gyldendal, 205 sider

Energi: en beslutningskrise
(Energy: A decision crisis)
Redigert sammen med Haakon Børde
Oslo, Gyldendal, 202 sider

Magt, Normer og Sanktioner
(Power, Norms and Sanctions, edited)
Oslo, Universitetsforlaget, 153 sider

Forklaring og dialektikk
Noen grunnbegreper i vitenskapsteorien
(Explanation and dialectics: Some key concepts in the theory of science)
Oslo, Pax, 233 sider

Teknologi och samhællsførændring
(Technology and social change, edited with Ingrid Åberg)
Redigert med bistand av Ingrid Åberg
Oslo, Universitetsforlaget, 103 sider

Argumentasjonsteori, språk og vitenskapsfilosofi
(The theory of arguments, language and the philosophy of science)
Oslo, Universitetsforlaget, 334 sider

Le laboureur et ses enfants
(The ploughman and his children)
Paris, les éditions de minuit, collection "propositions", 200.

Hva er igjen av Marx?
(What is left of Marx - A Norwegian translation of Introduction to Karl Marx)
Oslo, Universitetsforlaget, 247 sider

Vitenskap og politikk
En artikkelsamling
(Science and politics: A collection of essays)
Oslo, Universitetsforlaget, 239 sider

Arguing and Bargaining
(in Italian, unpublished in English)
Edizioni Anabasi

Rationality and the Emotions
(in Italian, unpublished in English)
Edizioni Anabasi

[ Books | Articles | Reviews | Index | The main menu ]

Recent books by Elster

Local Justice
How institutions allocate scarce goods and necessary burdens
Russell Sage Foundation, 283 pages

Political Psychology
Cambridge University Press, 204 pages

The Ethics of Medical Choice
(Edited with Nicolas Pinter)
Pinter, 168 pages

Local Justice in America
Russell Sage Foundation, 384 pages

The Round Table Talks in Eastern Europe
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[ Books | Articles | Reviews | Index | The main menu ]


If you want a general introduction to Elster's ideas, you should read Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. It is often recommended for undergraduates and/or those who have not read Elster before. A good alternative, if you do not want to read the book, would be to read a few of his articles (see recommended articles) and the review by A. Ryan in The New York Review of Books (1991). Alternatively you could read Political Psychology which in my opinion is a very good, though somewhat neglected, introduction to Elster's way of reasoning.

Rational Choice
If you are interested in rational choice I recommend Ulysses and the Sirens, Sour Grapes and Solomonic Judgements. If you don't have time to read these, you should read the introduction to Rational Choice (edited). See also Elster's recent article - "Unresolved problems in the theory of rational choice" - in Acta Sociologica.

You should be aware of the sometimes great degree of overlap in Elster's books. For example, The Cement of Society (very good if you study sociology) is in many ways an advanced version of Nuts and Bolts. Similarly, An Introduction to Karl Marx is a shorter version of Making Sense of Marx. For most purposes I would recommend An Introduction to Karl Marx. If you are not convinced about some of the arguments or simply want to go deeper, you may then consult Making Sense of Marx.

Good chapters
In Local Justice there is a very informative chapter on theories of justice. It provides a general frame for all the theories of justice by viewing them as the result of a gradual strengthening of the "veil of ignorance" behind which the individual is supposed to choose the just society (J. Rawls). The rest of the book is also good but it is not recommended unless you are interested in the subject.

Chapter 5 in Logic and Society on "Contradictions of Society" is very fruitful. Within this chapter the most important sub-parts are "Counterfinality" and "Sub-optimality." The chapter provides many concrete examples (and distinctions) of how individual action may unintentionally produce an undesirable result at the level of society.

The edited books
The edited books are in general more advanced than Elster's own books. My recommendation would be to read the introduction (often by Elster) and the chapters written by Elster.

More demanding books
Some of the other books are of less general interest. For example, you should not try to read Logic and Society unless you are willing to spend some time on it. Explaining Technical Change is also somewhat demanding. Neither are recommended for undergraduates who have never read Elster before. Having said that, I must add that both books are very stimulating if you have some background knowledge and/or are willing to spend some time on them. For example, if you are interested in counterfactuals in history both books are highly relevant (read Logic and Society first if you are interested in this - chapter 6, "Counterfactuals and the New Economic History").

[ Books | Articles | Reviews | Index | The main menu ]