WEBER'S THESIS AS
The social sciences seem increasingly doubtful that logical positivism canhelp them become history-free. This has contributed to rediscovery of thehistorical dimensions of social life,l and perhaps explains why many method-ologists and philosophers of science are hard pressed for a proper formulationof the logic of historical e~planation.~he difficulty with many formulationspresented so far is that they are more logical than historical and may sometimesprovide little help to a proper historical analysis. This happens not because ofan inherent deficiency in the nature of philosophy or the philosophy of science,but because of the inherent gap that exists between the requirements of thelogic of explanation and the capacity of the social sciences to follow theserequirements without becoming either trivial or too general.
Previously published in
Gabriel Kolko, "Max Weber onAmerica,"
1 (1961), 243-260;
Sprenkel, "Max Weber on China,"
3 (1964), 348-370;
Rex A. Lucas,
Specification of the Weber Thesis: Ply-mouth Colony,"
10 (1971), 3 18-346.
In the next volume: David Goddard, "Weberand the Objectivity of Social Science."
Social theory was, of course, never separated from history, but even the most"scientific" branches of it seem to be intensively interested in history today. Theseinterests have to do mainly with the attempts to apply methods and theories developedapart from the historical context
solve historical questions in an unconventional way.
far as psychology is concerned, they can be detected
Erik Erikson's alreadyclassical study of Luther and in his recent research on Gandhi-
Young Man Luther
which historical docu.ments are manipulated to support psychological theory. Sociology seems also interestedin the subject, an interest that is indicated by volun~es ike
Sociology and History,Theory and Research,
Cahnman and Alvin Boskoff (New York,
Sociology and History: Methods,
Hofstadter (New York,
Political scientists may benefit in this respect from the studies of Lee Benson, such as"Research Problems in American Historiography" in
Common Frontiers of tlze SocialSciences,
Komarovsky (Glencoe, Ill.,
Basic contributions in this respect are Carl
Hempel's "The Function of GeneralLaws in History," reprinted in
Readings in PIzilosophical Analysis,
Sellars (New York,
and E. Nagel,
The Structure of Science
But many further thoughts in this direction may be found
What Is History?
Tlze Poverty of Historicism
and numerous articles (par-ticularly in
History and Theory)
that go into the details of these problems as well asdiscussing their illustrations.