ProtoSociology 16:170-192 (2002)

In 1964 Searle argued against the naturalistic fallacy thesis that an ought-statement can in fact be derived from is-statements. From an analysis of this argument and of Searle’s social ontology of 1995 – which includes a full-blown theory of institutional facts – I conclude that this argument is unsound on his own terms. The conclusion that can now be drawn from Searle’s argument is that social or institutional obligations are epistemically objective even though they are observer-dependent. I go on to argue that the strength of such obligations depends on the strength of the underlying collective acceptance, which is a kind of collective intentionality. I also point out that all normativity in Searle’s framework can be traced back to either individual or collective intentionality. This bars him from providing an account of intention-independent moral facts.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Social Science
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ISBN(s) 1434-4319
DOI 10.5840/protosociology20021625
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