Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

All Constitutive Rules are Created Equal [Discussion]

Topics: Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophical logic
Keywords: Constitutive, Practiceism, Rules, Strategic fouls


Constitutive rules are traditionally conceived as defining what does count as a move within a practice and what does not (Williamson 1996). In the context of games, this means that constitutive rules define what counts as playing the given game. Thus, it follows that a player who intentionally breaks the rules of the game is not playing the game.

I discuss Bartosz Kaluziński’s paper, “What Does it Mean that Constitutive Rules are in Force?” (Kaluziński 2018). Kaluziński presents a thesis about the relation between the intentions of players in a game and the rules of the game, a thesis that responds to the question how a player can intentionally violate a constitutive rule of a game and still be playing it. He proposes the following account: 1) S knows that he or she is participating in the game G (knows the deep conven­tion of playing G) and intends to play; 2) S has working knowledge of the rules of G; 3) S intends to act in accordance with some small subset of R (rules) of G, that constitutes G’s hard core; 4) S respects the other rules of the game, i.e. in the case C of a supposed violation of any rule that is not a part of G’s hard core: i. S asks him- or herself what decision D an emotion-free referee in optimal cognitive conditions would have made in C (and answers this question); ii. S conforms to D. Somewhat unorthodoxly, Kaluziński neither demarcates a subset of the rules as constitutive thus allowing for the violation of the rest, nor appeals to any meta-rule. I accept this framework, and within it argue that Kaluziński’s account which appeals to a distinction between core rules and non-core rules fails to do justice to the constitutive function of non-core rules. Instead, I propose to utilize the prohibition-price distinction. This also renders the “ideal referee” redundant.





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