Most professional sociologists claim that sociology is, or ought to be, a theoretical science. Keith Dixon argues here that this claim is formulated in such a way that a proper evaluation of its status is extremely difficult, and that the contingent objections to the possibility of sociological theorizing are sufficiently strong for such activity to be labelled as pretence. He believes that pretence to the theoretical is a hindrance to the development of sociology proper. It devalues significant empirical work by giving status to research findings only in so far as they relate to often arbitrarily conceived 'theoretical' concerns; it leads to a systematic neglect of the historical dimension in the explanation of human behaviour; and it sets up ideals of explanation whose pursuit leads to sterility, frustration and even intellectual corruption. Keith Dixon emphasizes, however, that in attacking the contingent possibility of theory, he does not mean to devalue empirical expertise, analytic skill or the exercise of disciplined speculative intelligence. The argument of his book is that intelligence can only flourish when released from the constraints of attempting to justify the unjustifiable.
1. Ordinary Language and Theoretical Explanations 2. Matching the Physical Science Paradigm 3. Causal Explanation and Rational Action 4. An Alternative Conceptualisation: Voluntaristic Action Theory 5. Bringing History Back In: Laws and the Explanation of Human Action