ABSTRACT

The first time that Max Weber wrote systematically about the methodological foundations of legal sociology was in his Critique of Stammler. 1 At first glance, one may think that the two studies that form this Critique, written in about 1907, played only a marginal role in Weber’s work, adding at most a certain historical interest for what is in fact a century-old debate, marked by the almost complete obscurity into which Rudolf Stammler has fallen for several decades. But the reverse is actually true. It is now the communis opinio of Weber specialists that the Critique of Stammler is an important milestone in the formulation of his original and ground-breaking views on the theory of social science. 2 Nor can it be doubted that an attentive reading of Weber’s two texts on Stammler gives access to his sociological concepts: Weber himself stated, right from the ‘Prefatory Note’ (Vorbemerkung) that introduces the text of Economy and Society, that Stammler’s work is the source of serious errors: that is why he refers to his Critique of Stammler published in 1907 3 in the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft, emphasising that it ‘contains many of the fundamental ideas of the following exposition’. 4 Previously, in his 1913 essay on ‘Some Categories of Interpretive Sociology’, Weber wrote the following introductory note, which could not be more explicit about how important he felt it was to refute Stammler:

14It will be readily apparent furthermore, that the construction of concepts undertaken here shows relationships of outward similarity but of the strongest inner divergence from the formulations of R. Stammler (Wirtschaft und Recht), who is as eminent as a legal scholar as he is the producer of disastrous confusion as a social theoretician. This divergence is intentional. The construction of sociological concepts is largely a question of usefulness. We are in no sense required to construct the categories in Parts V through VII. They are developed in part to show what Stammler ‘should have meant’. 5