The article offers an assessment of rationales for critical social science
(CSS), noting that over the last three decades these have become increasingly cautious and timid, so that, for example, critique is reduced to uncovering hidden presuppositions and deepening reflexivity. First, the article outlines a simple conception of CSS based on the standpoint of the reduction of illusion, distinguishes this from scepticism and partisanship, and notes the importance of the denaturalization of social forms, Second, it assesses the critical standpoint of freedom. Third, the article argues that a stronger standpoint of the critique of avoidable suffering is needed and already implicit in limited form in existing CSS. Fourth, the article explores and counters some of the key reasons for the retreat of critique, and concludes.