Social Objects without Intentions [chapter]

Brian Epstein
2013 Institutions, Emotions, and Group Agents  
It is often seen as a truism that social objects and facts are the product of human intentions. I argue that the role of intentions in social ontology is commonly overestimated. I introduce a distinction that is implicit in much discussion of social ontology, but is often overlooked: between a social entity's "grounds" and its "anchors." For both, I argue that intentions, either individual or collective, are less essential than many theorists have assumed. Instead, I propose a more worldly -and
more » ... less intellectualist -approach to social ontology. It is often seen as a truism that social objects (such as dollars) and social facts (such as that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates) are the product of human intentions. As distinct from natural objects and facts, which exist or are the case independently of us, social objects and facts exist in virtue of our having attitudes toward the world, attitudes usually taken with some practical aim in mind. This postulate is a basic building-block of prevailing theories of social ontology. Lynne Baker, for instance, explains that artifacts "are objects intentionally made to serve a given purpose." 1 On John Searle's view, institutional facts are created and maintained by collective attitudes: 1 Baker 2004, p. 99.
doi:10.1007/978-94-007-6934-2_4 fatcat:5xwamil7gngzxis67p6ylknbda