Rainer Forst develops a critical theory capable of deciphering thedeficits and potentials inherent in contemporary political reality.This calls for a perspective which is immanent to social andpolitical practices and at the same time transcends them. Forstregards society as a whole as an order ofjustification comprising complexes of different normsreferring to institutions and corresponding practices ofjustification. The task of a critique of relations ofjustification , therefore, is to analyse such legitimationswith regard to their validity and genesis and to explore the socialand political asymmetries leading to inequalities in the justification power which enables persons or groupsto contest given justifications and to create new ones.
Starting from the concept of justification as a basic socialpractice, Forst develops a theory of political and social justice,human rights and democracy, as well as of power and of critiqueitself. In so doing, he engages in a critique of a number ofcontemporary approaches in political philosophy and criticaltheory. Finally, he also addresses the question of the utopianhorizon of social criticism.