Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-8bljj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-25T12:56:29.240Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Habermas, History and Social Evolution: Moral Learning and the Trial of Louis XVI

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 April 2001

Alan R. How
Department of Sociology, University College Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester, WR2 6AJ; e-mail:
Get access


In recent times, under the influence of postmodernist thought sociology has largely rejected the idea of social evolution. An exception to this trend is to be found in the work of Jürgen Habermas. Habermas's account of social evolution has received some critical attention, but in sociology wider detail of the picture is not well known. Habermas wishes to hold to the possibility that evolutionary progress can be discerned not only in the sphere of technical control, but also in the sphere of social and moral development. The paper presents Habermas's views on social evoluton within the wider context of his development of critical theory as a ‘reconstructive science’. It suggests that his account has been able to resist many of the standard criticisms of evolutionary theory and that a renewal of interest in this area could provide a rich vein of new sociological knowledge.

Original Articles
2001 BSA Publications Limited

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)