Restructuring Searle's Making the Social World

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (3):373-389 (2013)
Abstract
Institutions are normative social structures that are collectively accepted. In his book Making the Social World, John R. Searle maintains that these social structures are created and maintained by Status Function Declarations. The article’s author criticizes this claim and argues, first, that Searle overestimates the role that language plays in relation to institutions and, second, that Searle’s notion of a Status Function Declaration confuses more than it enlightens. The distinction is exposed between regulative and constitutive rules as being primarily a linguistic one: whereas deontic powers figure explicitly in regulative rules, they feature only implicitly in constitutive rules. Furthermore, he contends that Searle’s collective acceptance account of human rights cannot adequately account for the fact that people have these rights even when they are not recognized. Finally, It is argued that a conception of collective intentionality that involves collective commitment is needed in order to do justice to the normative dimension of institutions
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