Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

In this paper, I connect J.R. Searle’s concept of constitutive rules and H.L.A. Hart’s concept of internal point of view and look for an extension of this joint paradigm in institutional ontology. I make a distinction between five different perspectives about an institution—structural, teleological, axiological, strategic, and sociological—and connect these perspectives to three kinds of concepts: institutional, meta-institutional, and para-institutional. In the light of these distinctions, I submit that an explanation of institutional phenomena requires a three-dimensional ontology consisting of a structure (framed by constitutive rules), a conceptual background, and an actual practice. I then proceed by showing that this three-dimensional ontology makes it possible to specify Hart’s famous distinction between internal and external point of view (the latter being either moderate or extreme) into a more shaded distinction between six different approaches to an institution, exemplified by six different archetypical characters.


When considering the main authors who have been giving a major contribution to the philosophical discussion on constitutive rules, the role of H.L.A. Hart is often overlooked. This is quite odd, in a sense, given the focus he devotes to the enabling character of several legal norms, as opposed to the disabling character of duty-imposing commands


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