Searle, Collective Intentionality, and Social Institutions

  • Raimo Tuomela
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 79)


In this paper I will discuss some aspects of (1995) account of social institutions, especially features that are concerned with the role of collective intentionality in the creation and maintenance of social institutions. His account is interesting and rich. I find many of the basic ideas in his theory to be on the right track. However, I think that there are still non-trivial problems related to it. The theory seems too narrow on two counts. First, Searle’s theory is too narrow in that it leaves out a central class of social institutions. This is the class consisting of social institutions relying on expectation-based social norms or, as I have called them, “proper social norms” (cf. Tuomela, 1995, Chapter 1). Second, Searle’s emphasis on deontic status and status functions seems to be too demanding in general. While it works well for some cases (e.g. money), it does not apply to all those institutional cases where a new “conceptual and social status” in a sense to be explicated is involved, nor does it apply to institutional cases which only involve norm-governed social practices.


Social Practice Social Institution Conceptual Status Constitutive Rule Collective Intentionality 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

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  • Raimo Tuomela

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