Is society built on collective intentions?
a response to Searle
The following considerations belong to what has recently been discussed as “social ontology”. The paper deals with Searle’s understanding of the difference between social and natural reality. The thesis is that this differentiation falls short because it supports a wrong ontological hierarchy. Social ontology is mistakenly, as I want to show, designed by Searle as a domain-specific ontology subjected to the ontology of nature. I will cast doubt on the persuasive power of this idea by dealing with Searle’s notion of collective intentionality, which lies at the very heart of his doctrine of social and institutional facts: social reality shall originate from collective intentionality. But this notion stands for a wrong objectification of the social, for it is highly questionable whether the social is really exhausted by being the content of our action plans and truth-apt thoughts.
Zimmermann, S. (2014). Is society built on collective intentions?: a response to Searle. Rivista di estetica 57, pp. 121-141.
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