The Search for a Methodology of Social Science: Durkheim, Weber, and the Nineteenth-Century Problem of Cause, Probability and Action


The writings of Durkheim and Weber have canonical status in sociology, and their place in this canon sometimes obscures their place in the historical stream of the development of problems. Perhaps this is especially true in the case of the methodological texts, where the precursors and sources of their writings are to be found in the traditions of disciplines other than the discipline for which the texts were meant to serve as a foundation.

The aim of this book is to show how the dispute over cause, law, and probability developed during the nineteenth century and to locate Durkheim's and Weber's arguments in this stream of discourse. The roots of the later writings, and therefore their deeper connection s and the connections between these writings and such figures as Pearson, cannot be fully grasped without this history. Part of this book covers well-traveled ground. Mill, and to a lesser extent Whewell and Comte, all of whom are essential to this story, are familiar to the twentieth-century reader , and I will present them in a compressed fashion, designed to capture the skeletal form of their relevant methodological arguments, and the atmosphere in which they wrote. The discussions of Durkheim and Weber cover ground that is also well travelled and here again I will assume an elementary familiarity with the issues that arise in connection with their methodological works. The peculiar boundaries between these regions of familiarity and unfamiliarity are not merely incidental to the book. Bits and pieces of the story of the dispute are extremely well-known. Other parts of the story are shrouded. So the book is necessarily an attempt to relate the familiar to the unfamiliar. In doing this, the familiar is usually transformed - and in the case of some of Durkheim's and Weber's most familiar statements and themes - substantially transformed.


Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State


This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

About the book


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