This volume is a study of the development of the idea that human social behaviour is governed by laws comparable to the laws of natural science. The author sets out to provide a clear account of the arguments put forward from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries about the nature and possibility of social laws. Although analytical rather than historical in approach, the discussions are always informed by a kwledge of the relevant context and sufficient detail is provided to characterise the views in question accurately. The critical expositions of the views are presented elegantly and succinctly, in a way which reveals their bearing on the problems involved - problems which are still the subject of lively debate today. The book, which is written with great clarity and balance, will be of interest to students and specialists in the history of ideas, philosophy, law, religion and the histories and methodologies of the different social sciences.