John Searle: From speech acts to social reality

In John Searle. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-33 (2003)
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Abstract

We provide an overview of Searle's contributions to speech act theory and the ontology of social reality, focusing on his theory of constitutive rules. In early versions of this theory, Searle proposed that all such rules have the form 'X counts as Y in context C' formula – as for example when Barack Obama (X) counts as President of the United States (Y) in the context of US political affairs. Crucially, the X and the Y terms are here identical. A problem arises for this theory for cases involving 'free-standing Y terms', as for example in the case of money in a computerized bank account. Here there is no physical X to which a status function might be attached. We conclude by arguing that Searle's response to this problem creates difficulties for his naturalistic framework.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo

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