Crime is a serious social problem, but its causes are not exclusively social. There is growing consensus that explaining and preventing it requires interdisciplinary research efforts. Indeed, the landscape of contemporary criminology includes a variety of theoretical models that incorporate psychological, biological and sociological factors. These multi-disciplinary approaches, however, have yet to radically advance scientific understandings of crime and shed light on how to manage it. In this paper, using conceptual tools on offer in the philosophy of science in combination with theoretical work represented in this special volume of Psychology, Crime and Law, I provide some perspective on why explanatory progress in criminology has remained elusive and evaluate some positive proposals for attaining it.