Developing the incentivized action view of institutional reality

Synthese 191 (8) (2014)
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Contemporary discussion concerning institutions focus on, and mostly accept, the Searlean view that institutional objects, i.e. money, borders and the like, exist in virtue of the fact that we collectively represent them as existing. A dissenting note has been sounded by Smit et al. (Econ Philos 27:1–22, 2011), who proposed the incentivized action view of institutional objects. On the incentivized action view, understanding a specific institution is a matter of understanding the specific actions that are associated with the institution and how we are incentivized to perform these actions. In this paper we develop the incentivized action view by extending it to institutions like property, promises and complex financial organisations like companies. We also highlight exactly how the incentivized action view differs from the Searlean view, discuss the method appropriate to such study and discuss some of the virtues of the incentivized action view.



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Author Profiles

J. P. Smit
University of Stellenbosch

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