Ulysses Unbound

Studies in Rationality, Precommitment, and Constraints

Ulysses Unbound

This provocative book argues that, very often, people may benefit from being constrained in their options or from being ignorant. The three long essays that constitute this book revise and expand the ideas developed in Jon Elster's classic study Ulysses and the Sirens. It is not simply a new edition of the earlier book though; many of the issues merely touched on before are explored here in much more detail. Elster shows how seemingly disparate examples that limit freedom of action reveal similar patterns, so much so that he proposes a new field of study: constraint theory. The book is written in Elster's characteristically vivid style and will interest professionals and students in philosophy, political science, psychology, and economics.


"All three sections of the book are rich in historical examples. Elster is very good at illustrating his points with concrete cases, at seeing connections among disparate fields, and at steering discussions in novel and very suggestive directions. ... Elster is at his best in raising interesting questions for further interdisciplinary research." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism