Conflict Research Consortium BOOK SUMMARY

Max Weber


Anthony T. Kronman


Anthony T. Kronman. Max Weber. William Twining, ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983, 210 pp.

This book summary written by: Conflict Research Consortium Staff.

Max Weber, to paraphrase the author, examines the philosophical reflection implicit in Weber's Rechtssoziologie and asserts that its unstated, underlying philosophical assumptions are what gives the work its intellectual coherence and provide a connecting link between this and other of Weber's work.

Max Weber has been required reading in multiple political science courses at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It will be of interest to those who seek an understanding of the philosophical foundations of our Western legal tradition. Kronman begins with a brief history of the life and works of the sociologist and legal historian Max Weber. Weber's work is asserted to be the foundation upon which Ronald Dworkin built his assertions that any distinction between the moral and legal validity of laws are meaningless. Further, the author offers his interpretation, evidenced by Weber's work, of the latter's theory of value.

In a chapter devoted to authority Kronman examines: Weber's general theory of authority, three pure types of authority (traditional, legal-rational and charismatic), and the ultimate primacy of legal-rational authority. This is followed by Weber's assertions regarding: formal legal rationality, four senses of rationality, types of legal thought, and legal formality and substantive justice. The forms of contractual association are the focus of the next chapter. Chapter six discusses the relationship between law and capitalism through the examination of: the problem of causation (not the Humean problem), and free labor.

Although Rechtssoziolgie does not deal directly with religion, one of Weber's lifelong fascinations, the author searches for a connection between the work under examination and religion by an examination of: the Judeo-Christian conception of God and God as a contractual partner. The final chapter focuses on modernity and rationality. This is undertaken by an examination of Weber's views regarding the relationship between fate and both the loss of autonomy and the decline of leadership. This chapter concludes with Weber's critique of modernity. This is followed by a biographical sketch of Weber and suggestions for further reading.

Max Weber is a useful examination of the inter-relationship between legal and moral justifications of laws from a sociological perspective. It draws upon both the work under discussion, Rechtssoziolgie, and other work of Weber's.