Constitutive Rules in Context

Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 96 (2):223-238 (2010)
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Context has always been central to Searle’s account of constitutive rules, as can be appreciated from his classic formulation, ‘X counts as Y in context C.’ But while the nature of X and Y in Searle have been widely discussed, the role of the context in which Y is constituted on the basis of X has not. So, in this paper, I will discuss how context shapes the process of constituting and creating meaning through rules and how, in doing so, it affects the regulative action of constitutive rules. I extract from this argument the general thesis that the two main questions concerning constitutive rules-namely, ‘How can they be constitutive of meaning?’ and ‘How can they be rules even so, despite their constitutive role?’-can be solved by looking at the wider context, or ‘practice,’ within which these rules are framed, and that such an approach can give us further insight into the functioning of institutions.



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Corrado Roversi
Università degli Studi di Bologna

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