The Cunning of Law: Remarks on Brunkhorst’s Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions

Cristina Lafont*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This article provides an overview and critical analysis of Brunkhorst’s forthcoming book Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions. First, I briefly analyze the specific way in which Brunkhorst’s innovative approach to social evolution combines the normative and functionalist perspectives in order to reconstruct the four great legal revolutions that led to the formation of modern law. In the second step, I raise some critical concerns about the basic conceptual and methodological assumptions behind Brunkhorst’s reconstruction: a concern regarding its Eurocentrism, a concern about the methodological distinction between evolutionary and revolutionary change – particularly the question of where to situate counterrevolutionary ideological battles and developments and a concern about the systematic role of religion and religious ideas in his reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-575
Number of pages11
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 10 2014


  • Critical theory
  • functionalism
  • legal revolutions
  • social evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Law

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