Sociology was conceived by many nineteenth century thinkers as providing the theoretical foundation for a comprehensive applied science. Such views were especially prevalent in France, where the idea of a natural science of society was transmitted from the encyclopédistes through Saint-Simon and others to Comte, who believed that sociology, as the summation of positive science, could establish universal laws of social behaviour by reference to which all disputes about social policy might be settled. The ‘anarchy of opinions’ would then come to an end in social matters as it had done in the case of natural phenomena. Durkheim, although he rejected much of Comte’s sociology, was nonetheless a positivist in the Comtean tradition, who wished to establish an applied moral and political science on the basis of a theoretical science of society.