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Considering the paradigm of modernity's three key concepts --law, power, and science--Santos argues for extensive epistemological shifts in the field of critical social thought. He traces the historical process by which both modern science and modern law lost the balance between social regulation and social emancipation inscribed originally in the paradigm of modernity. Pleading for a new dialogic rhetoric and moving back and forth between solid empirical work and highly innovative and far reaching theorizing, he deals with diverse topics.