Social rules and the social background

In Michael Schmitz, Beatrice Kobow & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), The Background of Social Reality. Springer. pp. 107--125 (2013)
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How can people function appropriately and respond normatively in social contexts even if they are not aware of rules governing these contexts? John Searle has rightly criticized a popular way out of this problem by simply asserting that they follow them unconsciously. His alternative explanation is based on his notion of a preintentional, nonrepresentational background. In this paper I criticize this explanation and the underlying account of the background and suggest an alternative explanation of the normativity of elementary social practices and of the background itself. I propose to think of the background as being intentional, but nonconceptual, and of the basic normativity or proto-normativity as being instituted through common sensory-motor-emotional schemata established in the joint interactions of groups. The paper concludes with some reflections on what role this level of collective intentionality and the notion of the background can play in a layered account of the social mind and the ontology of the social world.

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Michael Schmitz
University of Vienna


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