This text is a comprehensive study seeking to show the significance of the acceptance or rejection of universal moral authority in the classical sociology of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. Appeal to such an authority, whether it be Durkheim's social order, Marx's historical progress or Weber's genuine individual, leads immediately to a set of insoluble dualisms such as freedom/determinism, agency/structure, and is/ought, problems which have plagued classical European sociology. The writings of Nietzsche and Anderson are utilized to draw out what it means to take morality as problematic. It is one of the achievements of moral authority that it quarantines itself from enquiry by creating the impression that it, and its attendant dualisms, are universal and therefore to be taken for granted. This study attempts to demonstrate that Marx and Weber have an understanding of what it means to take morality as a problem, but that they are also strongly moral. Their work is constituted by both an appeal to moral authority and a sense that there is something deeply problematic about such an appeal.
By showing how these two antagonistic themes appear in and shape their work, a number of insights result.