Making Social Worlds*
Abstract Making the Social World is John Searle’s latest statement on social ontology. His argument is clarified and expanded, but, despite various objections, it remains largely unchanged. In this review, I want to present Searle’s new book in light of these objections, explain why he has rejected the more important among them, and ask whether his reasons for doing so are defensible. I first present arguments that Searle’s naturalism – his broader philosophical project – does not have a definite shape in the social realm. I argue that this view is largely right because Searle allows for two seemingly inconsistent approaches: historical narratives and generalized explanations. I then introduce objections from historicists, who argue that Searle’s theory is not in fact compatible with historical explanations. I explain why Searle rejects these objections, and suggest that his reasons for doing so cannot be defended against examples of conceptual incongruity. On the whole, I argue that Searle’s naturalism starts from stronger assumptions than argument allows.