Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

In Speech Acts Searle argued for a version of philosophical naturalism by, in part, replying to G.E. Moore’s famous claim that naturalism, if it included any evaluative claims, would be clearly fallacious. We make the case that Searle’s reply was not the disaster it is sometimes claimed to have been. In our discussion we pay special attention to Searle’s introduction of such key concepts as brute facts, institutional facts, and constitutive rules. We also make a broader case for the ‘constitutive’ connections as central to Searle’s often misunderstood metaphysical views. We intend to show at least that Searle has an account of normativity that, while in a sense constructivist, is both naturalist and realist.


In the last two decades Searle’s work on social philosophy, or what could also be called his metaphysics of institutions, has been widely discussed and critically assessed. As seems characteristic of Searle’s views on various topics, those debates have concerned whether Searle’s overall position coheres. Specifically, it is common to hear that Searle’s constructivism about institutional phenomena is inconsistent with his philosophical naturalism.


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