Philosophy of the Social Sciences 44 (2):201-222 (2014)

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The article reconstructs three key concepts of Hans Vaihinger: the idea of mental fictions as self-contradictory, provisory, conscious, and purposeful; the law of the devolution of ideas stating that an idea oscillates between dogma, hypothesis, or fiction; and the underlying assumption about human consciousness that the psyche constructs thoughts around perceptions like an oyster produces a pearl. In a second, constructive part, these concepts are applied in a discussion of John Searle’s social ontologically extended theory of speech acts. The article introduces the Vaihingerian as-if to Searle’s account of declarations. The explanatory work in a model of social reality as Searle has proposed it rests on the ability to show a necessary connection between collective and individual intentionality facilitated through linguistic structure. The methodological individualism of the model requires that motivational assumptions about collective structures be realized in individual brains. The as-if stance of the declarer provides just this connection.
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DOI 10.1177/0048393113511041
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