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France before 1789The Unraveling of an Absolutist Regime$
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Jon Elster

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149813

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149813.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter One Introduction
Source:
(p.iii) France before 1789
Author(s):

Jon Elster

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691149813.003.0001

This chapter compares the making of the American constitution in 1787 and the French constitution in 1791. It discusses aspects of the pre-constitutional systems that would prove relevant for the understanding of the constitution-making processes. It also attempts to practice the union of history and psychology, which are the two main pillars of the social sciences. The chapter focuses on the quest for causality and the quest for agency or methodological individualism. It covers the main features of the prodigiously complex social system of the French ancien régime. It also cites many contemporary texts that illuminate the perverse and sometimes pathological effects of the social system.

Keywords:   American constitution, French constitution, pre-constitutional systems, constitution-making process, social science, methodological individualism

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