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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter evaluates Jon Elster’s Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality thirty-five years after publication. In the first section of the chapter, Elster’s work is put in intellectual context. The chapter draws attention to the significance of Elster’s framework in changing our understanding and scope of rational choice theory. It argues that the focus on adaptive preferences has opened up important questions for any political theory and policy science confronting the relationship between experts and the agents theorized. In the second section of the chapter Elster’s aesthetics and his critical treatment of Foucault is re-evaluated and found to be less compelling. In particular, Elster’s critique of a certain kind of consequence explanation is criticized.

Keywords: Elster, Adaptive Preferences, Sour Grapes, Rational Choice Theory, Technocracy, Foucault, Consequence Explanation

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