The Chinese rune argument

Philosophical Explorations 4 (2):66-74 (2001)
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Abstract

Searle’s tool for understanding culture, law and society is the opposition between brute reality and institutional reality, or in other words between: observer-independent features of the world, such as force, mass and gravitational attraction, and observer-relative features of the world, such as money, property, marriage and government. The question posed here is: under which of these two headings do moral concepts fall? This is an important question because there are moral facts – for example pertaining to guilt and responsibility – which hover uncomfortably close to the boundary between the observer-relative and the observer-independent. By means of a thought experiment involving an imagined Chinese society in which guilt is determined by the random throwing of sticks, I seek to show that moral concepts threaten the foundations of Searle’s philosophy of social reality.

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Author Profiles

Leo Zaibert
Union College
Josef Moural
Univerzita J. E. Purkyně
Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo

Citations of this work

Reasons as Premises of Good Reasoning.Jonathan Way - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (2).
Group Virtue Epistemology.Jesper Kallestrup - 2020 - Synthese 197 (12):5233-5251.
How Does Coherence Matter?Niko Kolodny - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt3):229 - 263.
Grounding Pluralism: Why and How.Kevin Richardson - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (6):1399-1415.

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