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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy


  • social ontology, causation, grounding, speech acts, institutional facts, searle, special theory of relativity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5835-5860
Number of pages26
Issue number6
Early online date2019 Oct 25
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun 1
Publication categoryResearch