Synthese: an International Journal for Epistemology, Methodology and Philosophy of Science vol:191 issue:8 pages:1813-1830
Contemporary discussions 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. (2011), who proposed the incentivised action view of institutional objects. On the incentivised 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 incentivised action view by extending it to institutions like property, promises and complex financial organisations like companies. We also highlight exactly how the incentivised action view differs from the Searlean view, discuss the method appropriate to such study and discuss some of the virtues of the incentivised action view.