On the Logic of the Social Sciences
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From Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought

On the Logic of the Social Sciences

By Jürgen Habermas

Translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen and Jerry A. Stark





For two decades the German edition of this book has been a standard reference point for students of the philosophy of the social sciences in Germany. Today it still stands as a unique and masterful guide to the major problems and possibilities in this field.

On the Logic of the Social Sciences foreshadowed the direction in which methodological discussions have traveled since it appeared and anticipated the problems they presently face. Habermas's statement of the principal issues is concise and elegant, and his own original resolution of them is of continuing relevance. He considers the main lines of thought pursued by epistemologists and methodologists of the social sciences, from neo-Kantianism to behaviorism, and from problems of measurement to those of interpretive logic, in a sustained and provocative argument that involves analysis and critique at every point and ends with his own sharply profiled position.

Beginning with the turn of the century debates on the distinction between natural and cultural sciences, Habermas discusses the relationship between sociology and history. He takes up the problem of a general theory of social action, focusing first on the nature of "interpretive understanding" and then on the scope and limits of functionalist explanation. In the concluding sections, he draws on psychoanalysis and classical social theory to sketch the outlines of his view of sociology as a critical theory of the present. Along the way he provides a great deal of material that is useful in understanding his own work.

On the Logic of the Social Sciences is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262081771 238 pp. | 9 in x 6 in


$25.00 X ISBN: 9780262581042 238 pp. | 9 in x 6 in

Not for sale in the UK Commonwealth, except Canada.


Shierry Weber Nicholsen and Jerry A. Stark.


  • A long-awaited translation. The study-already a minor 'classic' in its field—is noteworthy for its clear conceptualization of the relation between natural and social sciences and between intentional and behavioral analysis. Contemporary readers will savor particularly Habermas's subtle discussion of types of functionalism and of phenomenological and hermeneutical approaches to social inquiry.

    Fred Dallmayr

    Dee Professor of Government, University of Notre Dame

  • On the Logic of the Social Sciences is a work of exceptional scholarship and world-wide reputation. It traces recent developments in the philosophy of social sciences and engages these with a sustained critique. It offers a penetrating overview of many of the key problems in the social sciences and develops, as is well known, as original resolution of these. The book is of great significance.

    David Held

    The Open University, UK

  • Written in 1967 as an exercise in selfclarification, On the Logic of the Social Sciences is unmatched in its scope, insights, and impact. The point of departure for Habermas' twenty-year effort to reconstruct critical social theory, it is an indispensable aid to understanding his recent work on the theory of communicative action. The book also stands on its own as one of the best general overviews of the field, and should be required reading for students of the methodology and philosophy of the social sciences.

    James Schmidt

    Boston University