Can the sociology of morals be dissolved in philosophy ? Reception of Lévy-Bruhl’s La morale et la science des moeurs
La morale et la science des mœurs, published in 1903, may appear to mark a sociological shift in the thinking of Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, and it partially prefigures his later works. This is nonetheless a philosophical or epistemological work addressed to philosophers and aimed at convincing them to give up constructing « theoretical moral systems » that cannot claim to be scientific and will necessarily be superceded by a sociological « moral science ». Well received by Durkheimian sociologists – though Durkheim himself was then giving up the kind of categorical opposition here systematized by Lévy-Bruhl – the work provoked numerous critical protests from philosophers. In 1906 Lévy-Bruhl himself synthesized these critiques and uncompromisingly refuted them. Thirty years later, Georges Gurvitch wrote a work affirming that, on the contrary, philosophical and sociological approaches to moral phenomena were complementary and both were necessary.