The Creation of Institutional Reality, Special Theory of Relativity, and Mere Cambridge Change

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Abstract

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” (i.e. a world-to-word and a word-to-world 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 is interpreted as involving causal generation or non-causal grounding of worldly institutional facts—and should be replaced by a more modest theory which interprets the results of Status Function Declarations in terms of mere Cambridge change and institutional truth. I end the paper by indicating the import of this more modest theory for theorizing about the causal potency of institutional phenomena generated by declarations.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy

Keywords

  • social ontology, causation, grounding, speech acts, institutional facts, searle, special theory of relativity
Original languageEnglish
JournalSynthese
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Oct 25
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes