Artefacts and Collective Intentionality

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Social reality is multifaceted and comprises at least social conventions and norms, social roles and relations, social institutions and social artefacts. John Searles ambitious project in his Construction of Social Reality is to show in general terms how social reality can be accommodated to physical reality (Searle 1995). This raises a host of issues including how individual mentality and sociality are to be related, and how sociality and morality are to be related. Elsewhere I have argued against Searles anti-individualist conception of sui generis we-intentions (Miller 2001, ch. 2). Specifically, I have argued in favour of what I term the collective end account of joint action according to which sui generis we-intentions are neither desirable nor necessary. I have also suggested that Searles constructivist collective acceptance account of social forms emasculates central moral notions such as that of right and duty. On Searles account, human rights and correlative moral duties, for example, can exist only by virtue of collective acceptance of specific practices. Accordingly, in morally degenerate societies in which human rights are never respected, we must conclude that there simply are no human rights to be respected, for we have no external moral standpoint from which to make moral judgements in relation to collectively accepted social practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-67
Number of pages16
JournalTechne: Research in Philosophy and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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