Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

The Background of Constitutive Rules


Guest editors
Giuseppe Lorini (University of Cagliari)
Wojciech Żełaniec (University of Gdańsk)

Invited contributors
Jaap Hage (Maastricht University)
David-Hillel Ruben (King’s College London)
Frederick Schauer (University of Virginia School of Law)
John Searle (University of California at Berkeley)

For any query, use please the following addresses:

Deadline for submission: January 31st, 2017
Notification of acceptance: April 30th, 2017

In social ontology, the fundamental role played by constitutive rules (known under different names) in the construction of social reality and its institutions with their normative implications has been duly acknowledged and accounted for by scholars such as Czesław Znamierowski, John Mabbott, John Rawls, John R. Searle and Amedeo Giovanni Conte. The case of the game of chess is paradigmatic: it is impossible to play chess without the rules of chess. Generally, it is impossible to engage in any ever so implicitly institutionalised activity whatever without the corresponding rules. Yet, social ontology has so far ignored the (usually tacitly taken for granted) backdrop against which constitutive rules operate, and without which they are not thinkable. Constitutive rules, to wit, do not arise and work in an absolute vacuum: they are immersed in a conceptual and semantical atmosphere that conditions their normativity and their very meaningfulness. For example, while it is impossible to play chess (as we know it) without the rules of chess, it is likewise impossible to have these rules in a society where the concept of a game (a playful competitive activity) and the concept of victory do not exist (Hubert Schwyzer)—they would not be understood. Similarly, it is impossible to be a friend in a society that knows no rules—however tacit—of friendship. Such concepts as “game”, “victory” or “friendship”, however, are not for their part defined through constitutive rules—at least, not by any such rules of the same order as those that define chess. Such concepts are part of the conceptual background of these rules.

We should like to invite papers that investigate precisely this background of constitutive normativity and try to give an answer to such questions as: What is there behind institutions conceived of as systems of constitutive rules? What kinds of institutions are there accordingly? Which are the conceptual structures that are presupposed by constitutive rules and are operative in the construction of social reality? Besides constitutive rules with their background, are there any other necessary conditions of possibility of institutional facts?

Articles must be written in English and should not exceed 8000 words.  For the presentation of their articles, authors are requested to take into account the instructions available under Information for Authors. Submissions must be suitable for blind review. Each submission should also include a brief abstract of no more than 250 words and four keywords for indexing purposes. To submit a paper, please visit this page.