Approaches to Legal Ontologies

Volume 1 of the series Law, Governance and Technology Series pp 83-97


Social Ontology and Documentality

  • Maurizio FerrarisAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Torino Email author 

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Social objects exist, the proof being the difference between thinking to promise something, and actually promising something: once you give your word, the promise keeps on existing, even in case you forget about it, or—as more frequently happens—you change your mind. The first aim of this article is to expand on the nature of social objects, as contrasted with physical and ideal objects, and to spell out the steps that lead to their discovery. Secondly, I will illustrate and criticize the major contemporary theory on social objects, John Searle’s theory, and compare it with another theory, according to which social objects are a kind of inscription. Lastly, I want show how, from this standpoint, a social ontology evolves naturally into a theory of documents, which I propose to name “documentality”.