Social Rules and the Social Background

  • Michael Schmitz
Part of the Studies in the Philosophy of Sociality book series (SIPS, volume 1)


How can people function appropriately and respond normatively in social contexts even if they are not aware of rules governing these contexts? John Searle has rightly criticized a popular way out of this problem by simply asserting that they follow them unconsciously. His alternative explanation is based on his notion of a preintentional, nonrepresentational background. In this chapter, I criticize this explanation and the underlying account of the background and suggest an alternative explanation of the normativity of elementary social practices and of the background itself. I propose to think of the background as being intentional, but nonconceptual, and of the basic normativity or proto-normativity as being instituted through common sensory-motor emotional schemata established in the joint interactions of groups. The chapter concludes with some reflections on what role this level of collective intentionality and the notion of the background can play in a layered account of the social mind and the ontology of the social world.


Joint Action Intentional State Intentional Content Cooperation Partner Collective Intentionality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I acknowledge support for this research by a grant of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to the research group “Grenzen der Absichtlichkeit” at the University of Konstanz. I would also like to thank Werner Binder for discussion of an earlier draft and Melynda Moseley for improving my English.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PhilosophieUniversität WienWienAustria

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