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  1. Social Ontology.Brian Epstein - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Social ontology is the study of the nature and properties of the social world. It is concerned with analyzing the various entities in the world that arise from social interaction. -/- A prominent topic in social ontology is the analysis of social groups. Do social groups exist at all? If so, what sorts of entities are they, and how are they created? Is a social group distinct from the collection of people who are its members, and if so, how is (...)
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  • Expression of affect and illocution.Basil Vassilicos - 2024 - Human Studies 47:1-22.
    In this paper, the aim is to explore how there can be a role for expression of affect in illocution, drawing upon some ideas about expression put forward by Karl Bühler. In a first part of the paper, I map some active discussions and open questions surrounding phenomena that seem to involve “expression of affect”. Second, I home in on a smaller piece of that larger puzzle; namely, a consideration of how there may be non-conventional expression of affect. I provide (...)
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  • Le menti non sono documenti.Giovanni Tuzet & Andrea Lavazza - 2021 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 12 (3):212-224.
    Riassunto : Per la teoria della documentalità gli oggetti sociali sono atti iscritti e per la teoria della mente estesa le menti si estendono a processi o dispositivi esterni al corpo. Pur per motivi diversi, le due teorie convergono nel ridurre le differenze fra menti e documenti, e hanno a loro supporto la dimensione semiotica di menti e documenti; eppure, in una certa lettura, tali teorie risultano implausibili se si considera che le proprietà delle cose che chiamiamo “menti” non sono (...)
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  • Nunc pro tunc. The Problem of Retroactive Enactments.Giuliano Torrengo - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):241-250.
    In this paper, I present a problem for the realist with respect to the institutional sphere, and suggest a solution. Roughly, the problem lies in a contradiction that arises as soon as institutional contexts are allowed to influence the institutional profile of objects and events not only in the present, but also in the past. If such “retroactive enactments” are effective, in order to avoid contradiction the realist seems to have to accept the unpleasant conclusion that institutions can create a (...)
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  • Institutional Externalism.Giuliano Torrengo - 2017 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 47 (1):67-85.
    Many philosophers regard collective behavior and attitudes as the ground of the whole of social reality. According to this popular view, society is composed basically of collective intentions and cooperative behaviors; this is so both for informal contexts involving small groups and for complex institutional structures. In this article, I challenge this view, and propose an alternative approach, which I term institutional externalism. I argue that institutions are characterized by the tendency to defer to elements that are external to the (...)
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  • An angry young man: A close reading of Arthur Prior’s contribution to social ontology.Niko Strobach - 2016 - Synthese 193 (11):3417-3427.
    This paper is about one of Arthur Prior’s earliest publications in philosophy, “The Nation and the Individual”. Its aims are to show that Prior made a remarkable contribution to social ontology in the 1930s which should be read with some attention to its historical background, which closely follows John Wisdom as to its theoretical elements, in particular the notion of a “logical construction”, but which is more clearly eliminativist with regard to nations and which is original in terms of rather (...)
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  • Worlds, Models and Descriptions.John F. Sowa - 2006 - Studia Logica 84 (2):323-360.
    Since the pioneering work by Kripke and Montague, the term possible world has appeared in most theories of formal semantics for modal logics, natural languages, and knowledge-based systems. Yet that term obscures many questions about the relationships between the real world, various models of the world, and descriptions of those models in either formal languages or natural languages. Each step in that progression is an abstraction from the overwhelming complexity of the world. At the end, nothing is left but a (...)
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  • The Incentivized Action View of Institutional Facts as an Alternative to the Searlean View: A Response to Butchard and D’Amico.J. P. Smit, Filip Buekens & Stan du Plessis - 2016 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 46 (1):44-55.
    In our earlier work, we argued, contra Searle, that institutional facts can be understood in terms of non-institutional facts about actions and incentives. Butchard and D’Amico claim that we have misinterpreted Searle, that our main argument against him has no merit and that our positive view cannot account for institutional facts created via joint action. We deny all three charges.
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  • Rationality in Action: A Symposium.Barry Smith - 2001 - Philosophical Explorations 4 (2):66-94.
    Searle’s tool for understanding culture, law and society is the opposition between brute reality and institutional reality, or in other words between: observer-independent features of the world, such as force, mass and gravitational attraction, and observer-relative features of the world, such as money, property, marriage and government. The question posed here is: under which of these two headings do moral concepts fall? This is an important question because there are moral facts – for example pertaining to guilt and responsibility – (...)
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  • How to Do Things Without Words - A Theory of Declarations.J. P. Smit & Filip Buekens - 2017 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 47 (3):235-254.
    Declarations like “this meeting is adjourned” make certain facts the case by representing them as being the case. Yet surprisingly little attention has been paid to the mechanism whereby the utterance of a declaration can bring about a new state of affairs. In this paper, we use the incentivization account of institutional facts to address this issue. We argue that declarations can serve to bring about new states of affairs as their utterance have game theoretical import, typically in virtue of (...)
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  • Fiat objects.Barry Smith - 2001 - Topoi 20 (2):131-148.
    Human cognitive acts are directed towards entities of a wide range of different types. What follows is a new proposal for bringing order into this typological clutter. A categorial scheme for the objects of human cognition should be (1) critical and realistic. Cognitive subjects are liable to error, even to systematic error of the sort that is manifested by believers in the Pantheon of Olympian gods. Thus not all putative object-directed acts should be recognized as having objects of their own. (...)
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  • Developing the incentivized action view of institutional reality.J. P. Smit, Filip Buekens & Stan Du Plessis - 2014 - Synthese 191 (8).
    Contemporary discussion concerning institutions focus on, and mostly accept, the Searlean view that institutional objects, i.e. money, borders and the like, exist in virtue of the fact that we collectively represent them as existing. A dissenting note has been sounded by Smit et al. (Econ Philos 27:1–22, 2011), who proposed the incentivized action view of institutional objects. On the incentivized action view, understanding a specific institution is a matter of understanding the specific actions that are associated with the institution and (...)
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  • Social constructivism in mathematics? The promise and shortcomings of Julian Cole’s institutional account.Jenni Rytilä - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):11517-11540.
    The core idea of social constructivism in mathematics is that mathematical entities are social constructs that exist in virtue of social practices, similar to more familiar social entities like institutions and money. Julian C. Cole has presented an institutional version of social constructivism about mathematics based on John Searle’s theory of the construction of the social reality. In this paper, I consider what merits social constructivism has and examine how well Cole’s institutional account meets the challenge of accounting for the (...)
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  • In defence of constitutive rules.Corrado Roversi - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):14349-14370.
    Although the notion of constitutive rule has played an important role in the metaphysical debate in social and legal philosophy, several authors perceive it as somewhat mysterious and ambiguous: the idea of a specific kind of rules that are supposed to be “magically” constitutive of reality seems suspicious, more a rationalistic fiction than a genuine explanation. For these reasons, reductionist approaches have been put forward to deflate the explanatory role of this notion. In this paper, I will instead try to (...)
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  • On Bitcoin: A Study in Applied Metaphysics.Martin A. Lipman - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (3):783-802.
    This essay is dedicated to the memory of Katherine Hawley.1Bitcoin was invented to serve as a digital currency that demands no trust in financial institutions, such as commercial and central banks. This paper discusses metaphysical aspects of bitcoin, in particular the view that bitcoin is socially constructed, non-concrete, and genuinely exists. If bitcoin is socially constructed, then one may worry that this reintroduces trust in the communities responsible for the social construction. Although we may have to rely on certain communities, (...)
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  • Comparing Conceptions of Social Ontology: Emergent Social Entities and/or Institutional Facts?Tony Lawson - 2016 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 46 (4):359-399.
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  • A Plea for Descriptive Social Ontology.Kathrin Koslicki & Olivier Massin - 2023 - Synthese 202 (Special Issue: The Metametaphysi):1-35.
    Social phenomena—quite like mental states in the philosophy of mind—are often regarded as potential troublemakers from the start, particularly if they are approached with certain explanatory commitments, such as naturalism or social individualism, already in place. In this paper, we argue that such explanatory constraints should be at least initially bracketed if we are to arrive at an adequate non-biased description of social phenomena. Legitimate explanatory projects, or so we maintain, such as those of making the social world fit within (...)
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  • A plea for epistemic ontologies.Gilles Kassel - 2023 - Applied ontology 18 (4):367-397.
    In this article, we advocate the use of “epistemic” ontologies, i.e., systems of categories representing our knowledge of the world, rather than the world directly. We first expose a metaphysical framework based on a dual mental and physical realism, which underpins the development of these epistemic ontologies. To this end, we refer to the theories of intentionality and representation established within the school of Franz Brentano at the turn of the 20th century and choose to rehabilitate the notion of a (...)
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  • The location problem in social ontology.Frank Hindriks - 2013 - Synthese 190 (3):413-437.
    Mental, mathematical, and moral facts are difficult to accommodate within an overall worldview due to the peculiar kinds of properties inherent to them. In this paper I argue that a significant class of social entities also presents us with an ontological puzzle that has thus far not been addressed satisfactorily. This puzzle relates to the location of certain social entities. Where, for instance, are organizations located? Where their members are, or where their designated offices are? Organizations depend on their members (...)
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  • Epstein on groups: virtues of the status account.Frank Hindriks - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (2):185-197.
    ABSTRACTEpstein compares models of group agents that focus on their internal organization to models that focus on the statuses they have. He argues that status models are inadequate because agency is not something that can be attributed by fiat. Even if this is true, however, certain agential powers can be attributed to group agents. I argue that Epstein’s arguments stand to benefit a lot from recognizing that some group agents have statuses and constitute corporate agents. For instance, only corporate agents (...)
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  • Constitutive Rules, Language, and Ontology.Frank Hindriks - 2009 - Erkenntnis 71 (2):253-275.
    It is a commonplace within philosophy that the ontology of institutions can be captured in terms of constitutive rules. What exactly such rules are, however, is not well understood. They are usually contrasted to regulative rules: constitutive rules (such as the rules of chess) make institutional actions possible, whereas regulative rules (such as the rules of etiquette) pertain to actions that can be performed independently of such rules. Some, however, maintain that the distinction between regulative and constitutive rules is merely (...)
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  • But Where Is the University?Frank Hindriks - 2012 - Dialectica 66 (1):93-113.
    Famously Ryle imagined a visitor who has seen the colleges, departments, and libraries of a university but still wonders where the university is. The visitor fails to realize that the university consists of these organizational units. In this paper I ask what exactly the relation is between institutional entities such as universities and the entities they are composed of. I argue that the relation is constitution, and that it can be illuminated in terms of constitutive rules. The understanding of the (...)
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  • The creation of institutional reality, special theory of relativity, and mere Cambridge change.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2021 - Synthese 198 (6):5835-5860.
    Saying so can make it so, J. L. Austin taught us long ago. Famously, John Searle has developed this Austinian insight in an account of the construction of institutional reality. Searle maintains that so-called Status Function Declarations, allegedly having a “double direction of fit”, synchronically create worldly institutional facts, corresponding to the propositional content of the declarations. I argue that Searle’s account of the making of institutional reality is in tension with the special theory of relativity—irrespective of whether the account (...)
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  • Institutional objects, reductionism and theories of persistence.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (4):525-562.
    Can institutional objects be identified with physical objects that have been ascribed status functions, as advocated by John Searle in The Construction of Social Reality (1995)? The paper argues that the prospects of this identification hinge on how objects persist – i.e., whether they endure, perdure or exdure through time. This important connection between reductive identification and mode of persistence has been largely ignored in the literature on social ontology thus far.
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  • Money as an Institution and Money as an Object.Francesco Guala - 2020 - Journal of Social Ontology 6 (2):265-279.
    The folk conception of money as an object is not a promising starting point to develop general, explanatory metaphysical accounts of the social world. A theory of institutions as rules in equilibrium is more consistent with scientific theories of money, is able to shed light on the folk view, and side-steps some unnecessary puzzles.
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  • What’s New About New Realism? Mereology and the Varieties of (New) Realism.Guglielmo Feis & Jacopo Tagliabue - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (4):1035-1046.
    The paper set up a small “philosophical lab” for thought experiments using Digital Universes as its main tool. Digital Universes allow us to examine how mereology affects the debate on New Realism of Ferraris and shed new light on the whole notion of Realism. The semi-formal framework provides a convenient way to model the varieties of realism that are important for the program of New Realism: we then draw the natural consequences of this approach into the ontology of our world, (...)
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  • The Institutionality Of Legal Validity.Kenneth M. Ehrenberg - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2):277-301.
    The most influential theory of law in current analytic legal philosophy is legal positivism, which generally understands law to be a kind of institution. The most influential theory of institutions in current analytic social philosophy is that of John Searle. One would hope that the two theories are compatible, and in many ways they certainly are. But one incompatibility that still needs ironing out involves the relation of the social rule that undergirds the validity of any legal system (H.L.A. Hart's (...)
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  • Functions in Jurisprudential Methodology.Kenneth Ehrenberg - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (5):447-456.
    This paper guides the reader through the use of functions in contemporary legal philosophy: in developing those philosophies and through methodological debates over their proper role. This paper is broken into two sections. In the first I canvass the role of functions in the legal philosophies of several mid to late twentieth century Anglo-American general jurisprudents whose theories are still common topics of discussion: Ronald Dworkin, H.L.A. Hart, Lon L. Fuller, John Finnis, and Joseph Raz. In the second, I examine (...)
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  • The non-existence of institutional facts.Friedrich Christoph Dörge & Matthias Holweger - 2021 - Synthese 199: 4953–4974.
    That certain paper bills have monetary value, that Vladimir Putin is the president of Russia, and that Prince Philip is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II: such facts are commonly called ‘institutional facts’. IFF are, by definition, facts that exist by virtue of collective recognition. The standard view or tacit belief is that such facts really exist. In this paper we argue, however, that they really do not—they really are just well-established illusions. We confront realism about IFF with six criteria (...)
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  • Towards an Institutional Account of the Objectivity, Necessity, and Atemporality of Mathematics.Julian C. Cole - 2013 - Philosophia Mathematica 21 (1):9-36.
    I contend that mathematical domains are freestanding institutional entities that, at least typically, are introduced to serve representational functions. In this paper, I outline an account of institutional reality and a supporting metaontological perspective that clarify the content of this thesis. I also argue that a philosophy of mathematics that has this thesis as its central tenet can account for the objectivity, necessity, and atemporality of mathematics.
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  • On the Contrary: Inferential Analysis and Ontological Assumptions of the A Contrario Argument.Damiano Canale & Giovanni Tuzet - 2008 - Informal Logic 28 (1):31-43.
    We remark that the A Contrario Argument is an ambiguous technique of justification of judicial decisions. We distinguish two uses and versions of it, strong and weak, taking as example the normative sentence “Underprivileged citizens are permitted to apply for State benefit”. According to the strong version, only underprivileged citizens are permitted to apply for State benefit, so stateless persons are not. According to the weak, the law does not regulate the position of underprivileged stateless persons in this respect. We (...)
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  • Institutions as dispositions: Searle, Smith and the metaphysics of blind chess.Michaël Bauwens - 2018 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 48 (3):254-272.
    This paper addresses the question what the fundamental nature and mode of being of institutional reality is. Besides the recent debate with Tony Lawson, Barry Smith is also one of the relatively few authors to have explicitly challenged John Searle's social ontology on this metaphysical question, with Smith's realism requirement for institutions conflicting with Searle's requirement of a one-world naturalism. This paper proposes that an account of institutions as powers or dispositions is not only congenial to Searle's general account, but (...)
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  • Referring to institutional entities: Semantic and ontological perspectives.Alexandra Arapinis - 2013 - Applied ontology 8 (1):31-57.
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  • Toward an Ontology of Commercial Exchange.Jonathan Vajda, Eric Merrell & Barry Smith - 2019 - In Jonathan Vajda, Eric Merrell & Barry Smith (eds.), Proceedings of the Joint Ontology Workshops (JOWO), Graz.
    In this paper we propose an Ontology of Commercial Exchange (OCE) based on Basic Formal Ontology. OCE is designed for re-use in the Industrial Ontologies Foundry (IOF) and in other ontologies addressing different aspects of human social behavior involving purchasing, selling, marketing, and so forth. We first evaluate some of the design patterns used in the Financial Industry Business Ontology (FIBO) and Product Types Ontology (PTO). We then propose terms and definitions that we believe will improve the representation of contractual (...)
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  • Publications by Barry Smith.Barry Smith - 2017 - Cosmos + Taxis 4 (4):67-104.
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  • John Searle’s ontology of money, and its critics.Louis Larue - 2024 - In Joseph Tinguely (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Money. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.
    John Searle has proposed one of the most influential contemporary accounts of social ontology. According to Searle, institutional facts are created by the collective assignment of a specific kind of function —status-function— to pre-existing objects. Thus, a piece of paper counts as money in a certain context because people collectively recognize it as money, and impose a status upon it, which in turn enables that piece of paper to deliver certain functions (means of payment, etc.). The first part of this (...)
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  • Circularity in Searle’s Social Ontology: With a Hegelian Reply.José Luis Fernández - 2020 - International Journal of Society, Culture and Language 8 (1):16-24.
    John Searle’s theory of social ontology posits that there are indispensable normative components in the linguistic apparatuses termed status functions, collective intentionality, and collective recognition, all of which, he argues, make the social world. In this paper, I argue that these building blocks of Searle’s theory are caught in a petitio of constitutive circularity. Moreover, I note how Searle fails to observe language in reciprocal relation to the institutions which not only are shaped by it but also shape language’s practical (...)
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  • Barry Smith an sich.Gerald J. Erion & Gloria Zúñiga Y. Postigo (eds.) - 2017 - Cosmos + Taxis.
    Festschrift in Honor of Barry Smith on the occasion of his 65th Birthday. Published as issue 4:4 of the journal Cosmos + Taxis: Studies in Emergent Order and Organization. Includes contributions by Wolfgang Grassl, Nicola Guarino, John T. Kearns, Rudolf Lüthe, Luc Schneider, Peter Simons, Wojciech Żełaniec, and Jan Woleński.
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  • The Mystery of Capital and the Construction of Social Reality.Barry Smith, David M. Mark & Isaac Ehrlich (eds.) - 2008 - Open Court.
    John Searle’s The Construction of Social Reality and Hernando de Soto’s The Mystery of Capital shifted the focus of current thought on capital and economic development to the cultural and conceptual ideas that underpin market economies and that are taken for granted in developed nations. This collection of essays assembles 21 philosophers, economists, and political scientists to help readers understand these exciting new theories.
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  • Four Rules for Classifying Social Entities.Ludger Jansen - forthcoming - In Ruth Hagengruber (ed.), Philosophy’s Relevance for Information Science.
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  • Money and fictions.Ingvar Johansson - 2005 - In Felix Larsson (ed.), Kapten Mnemos Kolumbarium. Philosophical Communications. pp. 73--101.
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  • The Conditions of Collectivity: Joint Commitment and the Shared Norms of Membership.Titus Stahl - 2014 - In Anita Konzelmann Ziv & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), Institutions, Emotions, and Group Agents. Springer. pp. 229-244.
    Collective intentionality is one of the most fundamental notions in social ontology. However, it is often thought to refer to a capacity which does not presuppose the existence of any other social facts. This chapter critically examines this view from the perspective of one specific theory of collective intentionality, the theory of Margaret Gilbert. On the basis of Gilbert’s arguments, the chapter claims that collective intentionality is a highly contingent achievement of complex social practices and, thus, not a basic social (...)
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  • Situating Norms and Jointness of Social Interaction.Patrizio Lo Presti - 2013 - Cosmos and History : The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 9 (1):225-248.
    The paper argues that contexts of interaction are structured in a way that coordinates part actions into normatively guided joint action without agents having common knowledge or mutual beliefs about intentions, beliefs, or commitments to part actions. The argument shows earlier analyses of joint action to be fundamentally flawed because they have not taken contextual influences on joint action properly into account. Specific completion of earlier analyses is proposed. It is concluded that attention to features distributed in context of interaction (...)
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  • Document Acts.Barry Smith - 2014 - In Anita Konzelmann-Ziv & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), Institutions, Emotions, and Group Agents: Contributions to Social Ontology. Springer. pp. 19-31.
    The theory of document acts is an extension of the more traditional theory of speech acts advanced by Austin and Searle. It is designed to do justice to the ways in which documents can be used to bring about a variety of effects in virtue of the fact that, where speech is evanescent, documents are continuant entities. This means that documents can be preserved in such a way that they can be inspected and modified at successive points in time and (...)
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  • Making space: The natural, cultural, cognitive and social niches of human activity.Barry Smith - 2021 - Cognitive Processing 22 (supplementary issue 1):77-87.
    This paper is in two parts. Part 1 examines the phenomenon of making space as a process involving one or other kind of legal decision-making, for example when a state authority authorizes the creation of a new highway along a certain route or the creation of a new park in a certain location. In cases such as this a new abstract spatial entity comes into existence – the route, the area set aside for the park – followed only later by (...)
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  • In Search of the Ontological Common Core of Artworks: Radical Embodiment and Non-universalization.Gianluca Consoli - 2016 - Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 53 (1):14-41.
    I propose that artworks represent a specific and homogeneous ontological kind, grounded in a common ontological core. I call this common core ‘non-universalizable embodied meaning’, and I argue that this common core explains how artworks unfold their ontological identity at the physical, intentional, and social levels on the basis of an original and irreducible mode of material embodiment and cultural emergence; this common core functions as the constitutive rule of art and institutes an axiological normativity, that is, normativity based on (...)
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  • Social Objects Without Intentions.Brian Epstein - 2013 - In Anita Konzelmann Ziv & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), Institutions, Emotions, and Group Agents: Contributions to Social Ontology. pp. 53-68.
    It is often seen as a truism that social objects and facts are the product of human intentions. I argue that the role of intentions in social ontology is commonly overestimated. I introduce a distinction that is implicit in much discussion of social ontology, but is often overlooked: between a social entity’s “grounds” and its “anchors.” For both, I argue that intentions, either individual or collective, are less essential than many theorists have assumed. Instead, I propose a more worldly – (...)
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  • The “Ought” Implies “Can” Principle: A Challenge to Collective Intentionality.Guglielmo Feis - 2012 - Phenomenology and Mind 2:114-121.
    I investigate collective intentionality (CI) through the “Ought” implies “Can” (OIC) principle. My leading question is does OIC impose any further requirement on CI? In answering the challenge inside a Searlean framework, I realize that we need to clarify what CI's structure is and what kind of role the agents joining a CI-act have. In the last part of the paper, I put forward an (inverted) Hartian framework to allow the Searlean CI theory to be agent sensitive and cope with (...)
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  • The Simple Nature of Institutional Facts.Matthias Holweger - manuscript
    Facts such as the fact that Donald Trump is the US president or the fact that Germany won the 2014 world cup final are commonly referred to as “institutional facts” (“IFF”). I advocate the view that the nature of these facts is comparatively simple: they are facts that exist by virtue of collective recognition (CR), where CR can be direct or indirect. The leading account of IFF, that of John Searle, basically conforms with this definition. However, in his writings Searle (...)
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