Reason in Action: Essays in the Philosophy of Social Science

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Did Adam and Eve act rationally in eating the fruit of the forbidden tree? That can seem to depend solely on whether they had found the best means to their ends, in the spirit of the 'economic' theories of rationality. Martin Hollis respects the elegance and power of these theories but judges their paradoxes endemic. He argues that social action cannot be understood by viewing human beings as abstract individuals with preferences in search of satisfaction, nor by divorcing practical reason from questions of the rationality of norms, principles, practices and ends. These essays, focused on the themes of 'rational choice', 'roles and reason' and 'other cultures, other minds', make the point and explore alternative approaches. Culled in revised form from twenty-five years' work, they range across periods and disciplines with a philosophical imagination and vivid prose, which will engage philosophers and social scientists alike.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hollis's thoughtful and provocative essays will reward anyone interested in these and other topics addressed in this volume." International Philosophical Quarterly

"Martin Hollis has made significant contributions over many years to the theory of rationality and the role of this concept within the human sciences. Hollis's signal contribution is his persistent effort to bring these questions back to philosophy, and to locate the points of intersection between the theory of rationality and a host of important philosophical issues....Reason in Action is a highly successful volume which will reward the attention of a wide audience of philosophers and social scientists. Hollis sheds important light on foundational problems in the human sciences through his developed discussion of issues of individual rationality, cross-cultural standards of rationality, and standards of interpretation of human action." Daniel Little, Ethics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521442633
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2011
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Prologue: reason in action 1
I Rational Choice 17
2 Three men in a drought 19
3 Rational preferences 40
4 The Ant and the Grasshopper 60
5 Moves and motives 62
6 A rational agent's gotta do what a rational agent's gotta do! 80
II Roles and Reasons 89
7 Of masks and men 91
8 Honour among thieves 109
9 Dirty hands 131
10 Friends, Romans and Consumers 150
11 A death of one's own 170
III Other Cultures, Other Minds 189
12 The limits of irrationality 191
13 Reason and ritual 199
14 The social destruction of reality 221
15 Hook, Line and Sinker 242
16 Say it with flowers 250
17 Reasons of honour 263
Index 282
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