Constitutive Rules, Language, and Ontology

Erkenntnis 71 (2):253-275 (2009)
Abstract
It is a commonplace within philosophy that the ontology of institutions can be captured in terms of constitutive rules. What exactly such rules are, however, is not well understood. They are usually contrasted to regulative rules: constitutive rules (such as the rules of chess) make institutional actions possible, whereas regulative rules (such as the rules of etiquette) pertain to actions that can be performed independently of such rules. Some, however, maintain that the distinction between regulative and constitutive rules is merely a linguistic one. In this paper I present the status account of constitutive rules in order to address this criticism. According to the status account constitutive rules pertain to institutional statuses and statuses are to be understood in terms of status rules. Status rules concern the enabling and constraining roles of institutions, and constitutive rules specify the preconditions that have to be met in order for them to play these roles. Even though I end up endorsing the claim that the distinction mentioned is a linguistic one, I go on to argue that there is an underlying reality that constitutive rules serve to make apparent
Keywords Philosophy   Logic   Ethics   Ontology   Epistemology   Philosophy
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Frank Hindriks (2013). Collective Acceptance and the Is-Ought Argument. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):465-480.
Corrado Roversi (2014). Conceptualizing Institutions. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (1):201-215.
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