Context

(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

John R. Searle first presented the ideas in The Construction of Social Reality as the Immanuel Kant Lectures at Stanford University in 1992. Subsequent versions were presented at various lectures and seminars in the United States and Europe. Searle wrote the book in part as a reaction against an increasingly relativistic view of reality that became popular with many philosophers and social scientists. Searle rejects the view that all of reality is created by humans. That view states that there are no brute facts, but only facts dependent on the human mind. His main purpose in writing this book was to answer the question, “How is a socially constructed reality possible?” Searle says there are things in the world that exist only because people believe them to exist, such as marriage, money, property, and governments; however, many facts regarding these things are objective in the sense that they are not a matter of human preferences, evaluations, or moral attitudes. How, then, do people come to believe them?