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Max Webers Vergleich von Rechts- und Sozialwissenschaft

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Max Weber claims that human behavior can be explained equally well as ,,natural" phenomena. This claim has not gained widespread empirical realization in social research so that the question is still of eminent actuality in what way research can profit from Weber's thought. The article therefore discusses the development of Weber's theory of causality. It introduces his juridical view of causality which Weber develops in his methodological writings up to his theory of meaningful and causal adequacy. In this development, Weber stresses more and more the need to understand human behavior from a participant's point of view. The article re-describes this change in the language of causality in order to show that explaining and understanding are not rival forms of knowledge. In order to prove that this train of thought has fundamental consequences for the interpretation of data in social research, the article discusses research results on meritocracy and society. Weber's theory of meaningful and causal adequacy could be applied in research if it is conceptualized as combining two sorts of causal attributions. To Weber, meaningful causal attributions are at the basis of practical behavior from a participant's point of view which must be understood whereas causal attributions devoid of meaning (sinnfremd) characterize an observer's and scientific point of view which reveals additional causal influences on human behavior.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, edited by authorisation of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR), is an international, peer-reviewed journal, first published in 1907. It features original articles on philosophical research on legal and social questions, covering all aspects of social and legal life.
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