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Grand Theories and Everyday BeliefsScience, Philosophy, and their Histories$
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Wallace Matson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.001.0001

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(p.154) Chapter 20 Institutions
Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Wallace Matson

Oxford University Press

Beliefs about beliefs are involved in the creation of institutions and thereby institutional facts (“i-facts”). Institutions, according to Searle, are created by constitutive rules expressing collective intentions. Few important institutions, however, have been created by such explicit resolutions. They come about through tradition, legislation, claims of Rights, and the nature of the Economy. Yet another Invisible Membrane hides their histories and makes them seem to be plain facts. All Rights are institutional. Consent theories of political obligation have always been based on a postulated “state of nature” in which people who are all equal get together and agree on how they are to be governed. A Consent theory is sketched in this chapter that does not presuppose such unreal conditions. The Python Effect, institutional collapse through loss of mutual confidence, poses a real, practical, and perhaps insoluble Problem of Induction: beliefs about beliefs cannot always be safely extrapolated.

Keywords:   institutional fact (i-fact), rights, economy, consent, political obligation, state of nature, equality, Python effect, induction

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