Searle and his critics

Steven Lukes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The ensuing articles pose various challenges to Searle's thesis concerning social reality. Some exhibit misunderstandings; others identify inadequacies in the formulation of his thesis and failures to address issues within the limits of his project, notably his inattention to unintended consequences. Searle's project is to distinguish social from biological and physical reality, but that, it is argued, offers a restrictive account of what social scientists study, which extends well beyond linguistically-constituted institutions to include the 'brute realities' of social life and, most significantly, the interactions between the 'institutional' and the 'brute', for example between 'institutional' and 'brute' power. Searle's critique of Durkheim's social ontology is, in part, endorsed but also criticized for focusing on the latter's methodological pronouncements rather than on the ontology implicit in his substantive work. What bearing, in general, does getting social ontology right have on substantive social scientific work? Some suggestions are offered concerning the substantive implications of Searle's theory.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)5-11
    Number of pages7
    JournalAnthropological Theory
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2006


    • Durkheim
    • Institution
    • Intentionality
    • Objective
    • Ontology
    • Power
    • Social facts
    • Social reality
    • Subjective

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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