Emancipatory Social Science and Social Critique

  • Kai Nielsen
Part of the The Hastings Center Series in Ethics book series (HCSE)


Developing as a systematic alternative to positivistically oriented social science, critical theory emerged from the work of the Frankfurt school in the between-wars period and was continued by them during the Second World War, principally in the United States. Under some of its original leadership, the Frankfurt school was reinstated in Frankfurt in the postwar years and continued the development of critical theory there. This work, in turn, has been continued and indeed radically transformed by Jürgen Habermas. Utilizing and synthesizing a considerable array of contemporary developments in social science and philosophy, we have in Habermas’s work a subtle and developed, as well as developing, concept of an emancipatory social science. I shall elucidate it, critique it, build on it, and show some of its implications for policymaking.


Productive Force Critical Theory Moral Norm Social Critique Historical Materialism 


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    Noam Chomsky in several of his political writings has shown an acute understanding of the relation between neutrality and objectivity, as has Robert Paul Wolff in his Ideal of the University (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969). See, as well, Alan Montefiore, ed., Neutrality and Impartiality ( London: Cambridge University Press, 1975 ).Google Scholar
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© The Hastings Center 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai Nielsen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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