In discussing Max Weber’s concepts of legitimacy and rationality, I argued that his attempt to purge these terms of their normative force must be judged a failure. It is not as easy as Weber thought to separate formal and substantive rationality. This is a problem of substance, not of language; it is in no way resolved by inventing another term for ‘formal rationality’ which does not have tiresome overtones of reason and reasonableness. In other words, it is not a matter of deciding to make or not to make value judgments; to get one’s concepts totally value-free or to put up with a certain amount of normative contamination; this is a trivialisation of the problem. (1) The real issue is that to think seriously about society as a social scientist involves, as well as some new techniques, the same sort of intellectual operations as have traditionally been performed under the heading of social or political theory and, in particular, a ‘reflexive’ grasp of the extra-theoretical context in which social theorising is embedded and the associated practical (2) commitments.