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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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The Psychology of the Main Social Groups

The Psychology of the Main Social Groups


(p.32) Chapter Two The Psychology of the Main Social Groups
France before 1789

Jon Elster

Princeton University Press

This chapter suggests that some of the perverse features of préséance can be understood in a certain perspective. It explains that when the rational-choice model fails, it is either because of indeterminacy or of irrationality. It confirms that indeterminacy arises largely because of uncertainty. The chapter considers the mental precursors and causes of action, such as motivations and beliefs, of the main categories of agents in the ancien régime. It mentions Jean Egret, who emphasized that the major criticism the parlements made of the administrative monarchy was that under the name of the intendant one had established the anonymous despotism of the clerks.

Keywords:   préséance, rational–choice model, indeterminacy, irrationality, ancien regime, Jean Egret, administrative monarchy

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