The Varieties of Normativity: An Essay on Social Ontology

In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), Intentional Acts and Institutional Facts: Essays on John Searle’s Social Ontology. Springer. pp. 157-173 (2007)
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For much of the first fifty years of its existence, analytic philosophy shunned discussions of normativity and ethics. Ethical statements were considered as pseudo-propositions, or as expressions of pro- or con-attitudes of minor theoretical significance. Nowadays, in contrast, prominent analytic philosophers pay close attention to normative problems. Here we focus our attention on the work of Searle, at the same time drawing out an important connection between Searle’s work and that of two other seminal figures in this development: H.L.A. Hart and John Rawls. We show that all three thinkers tend to assume that there is but one type of normativity within the realm of social institutions – roughly, the sort of normativity that is involved in following the results of chess – and that they thereby neglect features that are of crucial significance for an adequate understanding of social reality.
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