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, 1982), pp. 270-278 Published by: Wiley on behalf of The London School of Economics and Political Science Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/589936 . Accessed: 08/10/2013 15:39
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which are found in a singleindividual. . the regulationof behaviour in andby society. do not usuallytake the individualas the startingpoint of analysis. philosopherscommonly take a different startingpoint.Nowhereis thissuspicion more The British Journal of Sociology Volume 33 Number 2 June 1982 g3RKP.John Hund Aresocialfactsreal?* AB STRACT This Note is a clarificationand defense of the Durkheimian view that social facts are 'real.and that they cannot 'withoutremainder' be reducedto psychologicalfacts or to statements that individuals may or will habituallyor as a ruledo certainthings. But becauseof the startingpoint takenby manyphilosophers the notion of 'socialfacts' hasbeenthoughtto be suspectby many. Sociologists. What the philosopherdoes is to ask himself what it is to make a moral judglnent.50 270 This content downloaded from 188.'that they can and often do 'constrain' individuals.Wherethey themselveswould think of moralsfirst of all in connectionwith . and the elements of analysisare social facts.that they exist independentlyof and 'externalto' individuals.107.but ratherthe group of whichthe individual is a partconstitutesthe fundamental unit of analysis. or to take up a moral attitude. and in this way the controversybetween the so-calledmethodological holists and individualists is located within a largerphilosophicalframework.27. In a recent articleby the Oxfordmoralphilosopher Philippa R.This questionof the reality of social facts is relatedto the work of Hartand Searleandto the debateaboutthe connectionbetweenfactualand moraljudgments. and he tries to give the analysisin terms of elements such as feeling. Foot the authornotes that: when arlthropologists or sociologistslook at contemporary moral philosophy they must be struckby a fact about it which is indeed remarkable:that morality is not treated as essentially a social phenomenon. 1982 0007 1315/82/3302-0268 $1. .as this learnedphilosopher notes. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . action and thought.240 on Tue.
ancillary issues raised by the Mandelbaum-Watkins holism or InsteadI am going to presenta defenseof methodological and in an earlierperiodby Durkthe view espousedby Mandelbaum.it maybe worthwhile philosophical within a larger them here.''societal.that they exist independentlyof an 'externalto' individuals. and that they cannot 'without remainder'be reduced to may or will habitupsychologicalfacts or statementsthat individuals I present ally or as a rule do certainthings.'that they canandoften do 'constrain' individuals. but they have preferredto ignore the facts.'or 'institutional' who has One exception to this has been MauriceMandelbaum arguedfor the existenceand autonomyof societalfacts which are. constituentsof the socialworldarepeople.'asultimateaspsychological without remainderto concepts which refer to the thoughts and is The view held by Mandelbaum actions of specific individuals. have been perfectly readyto accept else is there?Most philosophers the notion of 'brute' facts. Both have arguedthat traditional empiricist modes of explainingsocial behaviourcannot Since the conexplain nor account for the existenceof 'obligations.he facts. derivationof an One of the reasonsthat Searle'smuch-celebrated 'ought' from an 'iS'4 has had and still has so many philosophers their heads is that he was audaciousenough to introduce scratching discourseand to the notion of 'institutionalfacts' into philosophical 271 This content downloaded from 188.107. Searleand H. beliefs and dispositionsof individuals. A.' andholistshas so individualists troversybetween the methodological far not been construedbroadlyenough to includethe work of these and since theirviewsmayhelpto locate this controversy philosophers.'2 who writesthat 'the ultimate antitheticalto the position of Watkins. and to some extent modestly revisesome of the powerfularguments (by that or any other name) against methodologicalindividualism which have been devisedby John R. L. to examine context. seenor sensed. In the main. heim. the behaviour for what about the feelings.Both or brute of these philosophershave departedfrom the individualistic fact starting point adopted by the others. they reason. the individualists individualists philosopherscast in the traditionalempiricistmold.Are socialfacts real? methodological betweenthe so-called thanin the controversy apparent have been and holists.240 on Tue. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . notion of 'social. to the view that what is 'real'is that which can be or sensibleis not real. and all use of group concepts to describe can ultimatelybe reducedto statements of individuals. that socialfacts are 'real.27. but individuals Since socialfactscannotbe observed the latter are real and the formerare not.and that which is not observable can. They havebeen inclined. Hart.'3 In this note I am not going to rehashthe assortmentof side and controversy.' and 'cannotbe reduced maintains. and all statementsabout the behaviourof groups. that is.A few of the arguments but in the mainI am simplygoingto restate may be modestlyoriginal.
accordingto Searle. and 'promising involvesthe undertaking of an obligation.and still othershavesimplydeniedthatJones ought to do anything at all.Indeed. then Jones' utterance 'I hereby promise. satisfactoryanswersto them may help to resolve the controversybetween those who believe that social facts are real. if he is not so inclined.240 on Tue.' count as promising. ' would haveno effect uponJones'moralsituationor upon what he ought to do. But underlyingthe institutionof promising. A social ruleis definedby Hartashaving an 'internal aspect'in addition to an 'externalaspect' which it shareswith a mere social habit and which consists in simple.but if there were no rules of football.Some haveattacked the ceterasparibus rider. etc.Withoutconstitutive rules the description'they playedfootball'or 'Jonesmadea promise' cannot be given. .what are rules.all thingsbeingequal. They createand definenew formsof behaviour according to Searle.He argues thisway: from the fact thatJones promised to pay Smith five dollarsno one would disagree that he. ought to pay Smith five dollars. What are constitutiverules?Moreto the point in the context of the present discussion. It is possible that twenty-two men might line up and go through the same physical movementsas are gone throughby two tfbams at a football game. .for what aresocialrulesif not socialfacts? Social rules have two dimensionsas it were. how are they possible. If the institution did not exist.' where X is a brute descriptionof certainthings in the world. .27.WhatSearlesays abouthis deduction it is that it is possibleonly becauseof the institutionof promising. accordingto Searle.Even though it has provokeda spateof reply andrejoinder and rebuttalsto rejoinders to replies and so on.'but such This content downloaded from 188.Jones. which are explicated by Hartin termsof whathe callstheir 'internal' and sexternal' aspects.107. and where Y is an institutionalstate of affairs. Searle'sderivationof an 'ought' from an 'is' is simpleenough. .the questionof the existence and reality of socialfacts is identicalwith the question of the existence and realityof socialrules. Constitutiverules give sense to the activitiesof individuals. This internalaspect of rules is accordingto Hart sometimes misrepresented as 'a mere matter of psychologicalfeelings.others have denouncedthe deductionas a fraud. no antecedentlyexisting game of football. there is no senseaccording to Searlein which their behaviourcould be describedas playingfootball. and those who deny theirexistence.are certain'constitutiverules' to the effect that utterancesof the kind 'I herebypromise.'S Searle gives as a formulafor constitutiverules 'X counts as Y in context C. and what does it mean to say that they 'exist'?Thoughmany empiricistmindedphilosophers havegrowntiredof askingsuchquestions because they see no point in it. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . that is.272 John Hund use the existenceof these to explainhow evaluative conclusionscould be derivedfrom factual or descriptive premises. regularbehaviourwhich an observercould record.
like dogs and apes. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . is that the individualsare capable of isolatingand reactingto certain 'patterns'in their environment.' Durkheimwas prepared accordingto Durkheim. It will be remembered crucial elements in Hart's analysis of rules: there is (1) a 'critical which reflectiveattitude' towardcertain (2) 'patternsof behaviour.' These common or are taken as a (3) sharedor 'commonstandard.' or what can also be thoughtof as 'sharedmeanings.If humanbeings like lower animalswere able to think only in termsof individualistic concepts referringto physical objects in the world.'but is 'reallythere. what is lost is an entire dimensionof the social life that is being described. like humans.presupposedthe existence representations. \hat this amountsto. in his article in defense of methodologicalholism Ernest Gellner had made the point that individualsthinkin holistic (or 'institutional')concepts. that have little ability to recognizethem to those.' sharedstandards Collective to call 'collectiverepresentations.who what Aristotlecalled possess the cognitivecapacity of accomplishing ' Whatis involvedin pattern in the particular.is accordingto Gellner 'not merely abstracted.9 same as the extent to which they are 'shared' Viewed strictly from the external or 'physical' point of view.'6\hat is necessaryin Hart'sview is that there should exist a 'criticalreflectiveattitudeto certainpatternsof behaviour which are taken as a common standard. recognitionthen is the duality of concreteness extent to which abstractstandards(such as rules) are 'public'is the or 'group'properties. they would be unable to recognizemuch less build theirlives aroundandparticipate referredto WhatWeber in institutionalor social forms of behaviour. what is universal 'grasping The and abstractness.The patternabstracted. and if we try to concepts which have as theirreferents reduce these to individualistic mere brute phonetic utterances(in the case of a language)or pieces of metal or paper (in the case of money).'7Rules accordingto Hart necessarilyinvolvereferenceto somethingwhich is 'outside'of is a certain'patternof behaviour' the individual.and this 'something' standard. in Gellner'sview.27. We have 'holistic'concepts whichwe use to describe these social facts (and artifacts).240 on Tue.and raisesthe issue of the that there arethree 'exteriority'of social facts.he argues. of certain 'sensibleindices' or 'visiblepatterns.' and the extent to which such indices or patterns (the 'external'aspect of rules) are 'sensible'or 'visible'variesin animalsfrom those. as 'social action' would not be possible. a dollarbill is no more than a piece of metal or a piece of cloth paper with grey and green ink on it. A rudimentarysystem of kinship would not even be possible.'8 This is the same position taken as Hart's.'areneither necessarynor sufficientfor the existence of bindingrules.Are social facts real? 273 feelings.107.however.' which is 'takenas' a commonor a 'shared Now. a coin or spoken languageis no more than brutephonetic utterances. for without constitutive rules and 'wife' the institution creatingand definingthe roles of 'husband' This content downloaded from 188.
274 John Hund of marriage would not exist.' But they sharecommon features.is the 'ontological' status of the entities referredto by holistic concepts such as those appearing in the examplescited above. Constitutive rulesmakegrouplife and society possible.''wife. one thing is clear and this is that the things referred to by holistic conceptsexist in and by virtue of rules.' 'the Dodgersbeat the Giants.speechandactionwhichis involved in the existenceof rulesandwhich constitutesthe normative structure of society. or conceptsused to describethe properties. then.' which is to say that they are externalto and exist independently of the individuals who take them as common standardssharedby the group.we This content downloaded from 188. for example.and these 'patternsof behaviour'are 'out there. They create the very possibility of forming social relationships.'and 'Greenwas convictedof larceny.10After drawing his distinction between bruteandinstitutional factshe describes a certainpicture of what constitutes the world.Theseparadigms varyenormously.107. It is obvious however that large areas of apparentlyfact-stating languagedo not consist of concepts which are a part of this picture.Whilethe notion of 'ontological status' is never as clear as it could be.and one of them is that the concepts which make up the knowledgerefer to physical objects. according to Gellner.according to Searle.They aregroup properties.' to 'I have a pain. When we look at a work of impressionistic art.' 'marriage. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .' Now.' 'state.it will be remembered.' 'uncle' and so on.27. obligationsand social structures. do so many still cling to the idea that socialconcepts such as 'husband. Searlegives the followingas examplesof this: 'SmithmarriedJones. It is a pictureof the worldas consisting of brute facts.and the basisfor all knowledgeof this kind is generally supposed to be simple empiricalobservationsrecordingsense experience.240 on Tue.'but group life as we know it could not exist. Part of what is meant by this is that thereare certain 'paradigms' of knowledgeand that these paradigms aretaken to form the model of all knowledge.' 'money.They range from 'this stone is next to that stone. and consequentlywhat constitutes knowledgeabout the world. in other words. Why. can be reducedwithout remainder or loss of meaningto concepts which refer only to brute facts? One possible answeris given by Searlein his book SpeechActs. The model for systematic knowledge of this kind is the naturalsciences. and they cannot without remainder be reducedto properties. Without holisticconceptsandthe 'things' they createanddefinehumans couldperhaps'runin packs.and until their importanceis graspedwe shall be unable to understandthe whole distinctivestyle of humanthought. what is at issue (at bottom) in the controversybetween the methodologicalindividualists and holists.These rules consist of a criticalreflective attitude toward certain patterns of behaviourwhich are taken as a common standard.of individuals.' 'debt.
it takes certaintraining. often the explanationof an individual's behaviordemandsthe introductionof conceptsreferring to societal status. We undergoa similarcognitiveexperienceas we are socialized into a group. True. Then as we stand back at just the right distance. though it certainly includes the claim that they can 'give cause' or providereasonsfor actions. Patternsbecomevisibleto us as we become membersof the group or speech community.or learned.as Watkinsdoes. togetherwith his factual beliefs. that is beingmade for the ontologicalstatus or the reality of social facts.'let us herenote that Durkheimwas. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .It would This content downloaded from 188. or as we learna language. This is the kind of claim.Are social facts real? 275 find that if we standtoo nearit we cannotmake out its object. that 'anindividual's personality is a systemof unobservable dispositionswhich. Indeed.27. determine observable behaviour'llleaves an entire dimension of social life unanalyzed and unexplained. This.107. a 'pattern'comes into view.' But if a patternis an intelligible configurationof elementsit must also to some extent exist 'out there'or in the world. was Durkheim's claim. I take it. at any rate.and any attempt to argue. An individual's behaviormay sometimesbe made more intelligibleby viewingit as a speciesof 'role'behavior.It could of course be supposedthat in the case of a work of impressionistic art the pattern is being 'imposed'on the canvasby the mind of the individual viewer -that it is not 'reallythere. skill and capacity(sometimescalled 'competence'by learningtheoristsor linguists)to be able to recognizethe patternsof behaviourwhich constitute humanspeech and action. it still does make sense to say that social facts can constrainus and that indeedthey do.we begin to recognizecertainpatternsof behaviour which aretakenby the group as shared or common standards of behaviour.and that they are group (which is to say 'social')properties which cannot be reduced to nor explained in terms of physical or psychologicalpropertiesof individuals.240 on Tue.This is not necessarilyto say that socialfactscan 'cause'individuals to do certain things.He arguedthroughouthis Rules of Sociological Method that social facts could not be reducedto psychologicalfacts. that the formeraresuigeneris and exist on a different'level'from psychological facts. Empiricist-minded philosophers may havetroubleaccepting these premises. A second index of the ontologicalstatusof the entities referred to by holistic concepts that was noted by Durkheimwas 'constraint. Groupmembership constitutesan enormous structureof rights and duties which exerts a constant and indeed a 'crushing'influence upon individuals.As we become familiarwith the ways of the groupmembers.' He felt that social facts could 'constrain'individuals.but just as Watkinshas pointed out that 'Weber was no Platonist. But the claim seems to be that these patternsreally are there to be discovered. Whileit may not be true that social facts can have an effect on behaviorin the same way that a billiardball strucksquarelycan have an effect upon anotherbilliard ball.
Thus. if we insist on analyzingsocial behaviour.'l2 rulesexist. to reportfor military light.276 Hund John roleto characterize difficultto reducemany of the conceptsused concepts havingto be to psychological and role-behavior relationships The reasonthis is so is that the beliefs. at all to the writingsof began from different Society had appearedin 1934. areused as guides to social life and as the rules give them reasons Such admissions. in one way ratherthan another. and rules. for behaving includinglanguage. the statementthat an individual gation.remains duty found out andhas be never will that he or unreasonably) (reasonably the generalirrelto fear from disobedience. an has he whether cannot be refalls under a rule.This explainswhy influentialMind. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . red a pay Smith five dollars. but are also a 'reason' of group-members rules suchactions. with do duties which of such roles are the bearersof rightsand incumbents roles. seeing the generalirrelevanceofaperson's The he had an oblifears and motives to the questionof whether beliefs. and motives feelings. deviations where that modesof analysisobscurethe fact that hostile reprediction a for from them are not merely grounds for and a 'justification' actionswill follow..240 on Tue. case individuals. of beliefs or to the dispositions (withoutremainder) duced juristJohn Austin.g. is illustrated This has an obligation. as groupproperties. individuals exist. that argued has Hayek And would behave in certain ways.This indicates the questionof nothing to motives and beliefs. Fromthe internalpoint of view basis of claims.Self and whose Mead H.demands. fears of an individual's evance An individualhas an obligationif his obligation. feelings.when the noted 'symbolic'dimensionof shared. They are 'constrained' define in the same way that Structuresof rights and obligationsexist who aresubjectto them. Ryle and Mead one another points. G. such by these roles.l3 This content downloaded from 188.groupactivity. what is left out Thus.criticismand punishment. viduals phenomena social of 'thereis no other way towardan understanding of individualactions directedtoward but through an understanding But these individualistic andguided by their expected behaviour. of terms in perspective from an 'individualistic' is the social or analysis the of beliefs and habits. and these 'constrain' rules oblimost clearlyby examiningthe notion of social e. subjective these of terms in not definedthe notion of obligation gation. Conceptof Mindin 1949 OxfordphilosopherGilbertRyle wrote the left out of the picture mode of analysiscompletely his individualistic social and communicative the group or sharedpropertiesof human referencein that work no appears there behavior.'And the two worksareas differentfrom point for 'starting starting psychologyis from sociology. indiother or officials certain but in termsof the likelihoodthat facts. So.to stop at to even if he believes true or to care for one's offspring. The as behavioristic closerto that of Meador analysisfound in the work of Hartis much Both Hartand Searle Durkheimthan it is to that of Humeor Ryle. motives.27.107.
' British This content downloaded from 188. N. 1. 229. 33 -4. Is this a Platonic doctrine?Plato Oxford UniversityPress. Oxford University Press. 1959. 'Approval and disapproval. N.56. empiricist andby classical byHume setdown analysis is an outgrowth individualism Wecansee thenthatmethodological is that doctrine methodological The converse of Britishempiricism. explained used of the agent.498.). Hacker and J. 1956.). p.' theyreferto are'real the 'things' incliviway of sayingthat they can andoften do 'constrain' another to' individuals. 8. p. Watkins. do certain John Hund Departmentof Sociology of California University SanDiego NOTES 4. p. Searle.Are social facts real? 277 and of knowledge paradigm fromthe empiricist-indivldualistic deviate epistemology. 7. Foot (ed. 9. 1961. J. 1964. 6. Concept of Law. Oxford University Press. Cambridge University Press. Raz (eds). W. 'Explanations in History. 6.73. J. of and 'external duals.andwhileholisticconcepts framework conceptual (if all we caredaboutwerethe might be eliminable by an observer or psychologists by behavioristic produced kinds of explanations it is clearthatwhenusedby particinaturalsciencedemographers) and they are not.and Sociology.that they exist independently to psychological bereduced remainder' andthattheycannot'without or as a rule mayorwillhabitually thatindividuals factsor statements things.). 43-58. 505. areintentional socialor groupphenomena of of the salientthemesof modernsociologyis that description the situunderstanding mustinvolve socialphenomena distinctively is to be by the agentwhosebehaviour ation as it is apprehended to the makereference It musttherefore and understood.). Gardiner (ed. sSocietal Facts. All citations are to the anthologized version of the article. All citations are to the anthologized version of the article. reprinted in Patric Gardiner (ed. Theories of Ethics. 479. Theories of History. Law.' in P.240 on Tue. 1955. retitled 'Holism and Individualismin History Journal for the Philosophy of Science. pp. Flew for some helpful comments on an earlierversionof this note. 'How to derivean ought from an is. R. Oxford UniversityPress. 1969. M. 19 77. 1969. p. Reprinted in Philippa R. *I would like to thank Professor A. This citation is to the antholo. p.' British Journal of Sociology. 5.' Proceeding of the Aristotelian Society.107. Theseholisticconcepts pantsor groupmembers whichis yet in theirconsequences. 3. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . S. 2. Ibid. Morality and Society. 1952. Speech Acts. 'Ideal types and historical explanation. Theories of History. pp. G. andone andteleological. Oxford UniversityPress.' andreprintedin Patrick gized version reprinted in Patrick Gardiner (ed.27. 1959. Oxford UniversityPress. Theories of History.' PhilosophicalReview. 1959.
107. The Oxford UniversityPress. Oddly enough. references to 13. F. in Hart's appear Ryle both Hume and referencesthat book.27. Op.Hund John 278 in the arguedthat we sparticipate' heaven the constitute that universals groupmembers. 10. yet there are no Mead or either to I could locate Durkheim. Explanstion. 8 Oct 2013 15:39:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the versionof 11. Whenwe. p. as are we not group the in sparticipate' abstractstandards alsoparticipatingin Aren't these group? 'shared'by the group?Was the propertiesof standards doctrine? sociological a Platoadvancing cit. Individualism London of Order. offorms. 6. This content downloaded from 188. Hayek.p. 104. Press. and 12. A.240 on Tue. This citation is to in Alan Watkins's article reprinted of Social Philosophy Ryan (ed. 1973.University Economic 1949.).