Searle on social institutions: A critique

Dialectica 56 (3):195–211 (2002)

Wolfgang Balzer
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
The dominant “harmonious” notion of a social institution used by Searle in the discussion of social facts is critically reconsidered. It is argued that an essential ingredient is missing from this notion, namely the harming feature of power. The harmonious view treats power as an important part of social institutions, but takes into account only its beneficial side. This led to a thoroughly positive notion of social institutions which makes us blind to the harm they inflict, the duality of those who benefit from exerting power and those who suffer from the power being exerted upon them, and the asymmetry between leading groups and those which “are lead”. It turns out that Searle's notion of social facts is robust and compatible with a more adequate notion of social institutions emerging from the investigation
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DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2002.tb00239.x
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