Critical theory agrees with that of Karl Marx in that one must become conscious of how an ideology reflects and distorts reality and what factors influence and sustain the false consciousness that it represents especially reified powers of domination. Habermas has accepted that various theories and methods have a relative legitimacy. He goes so far as to argue that the logic of social explanation is pluralistic and eludes the apparatus of general theories. The most important approach is to bring all the various methods and theories in relation to each other. Whereas the natural and the cultural or hermeneutic sciences are capable of living in mutually indifferent albeit more hostile than peaceful co existence the social sciences must bear the tension of divergent approaches under one roof.
In his theory of communicative action Habermas casts critical social theory in a similarly pluralistic, yet unifying way and argues that the main existing theories have their own particular legitimacy as developed lines of empirical research and that critical theory takes on the task of critically unifying the various theories and their heterogeneous methods and presuppositions. Critical social theory does not relate to established lines of research as a competitor starting from its concept of the rise of modern societies, it attempts to explain the specific limitations and the relative rights of those approaches.