Specifying my first question on Searle, I am looking for papers by Searle or others that deal with Searle's notion of moral responsibility or morality in general. I found a great deal about free will, but in these papers he refuses to talk about the problem of morality from his materialistic point of view.

  • 2
    Here is a review of a critical anthology around Searle, in the introduction to which Searle himself apparently talks a little bit about some of the ethical implications of his oeuvre
    – Joseph Weissman
    Jun 16, 2013 at 17:10
  • 2
    Unfortunately, that's not really helpful...
    – iphigenie
    Jun 17, 2013 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


Initially I started with a comment but what I had to say more than I could fit in there so I am hoping putting it here will make it easier to read.

Although may not be 100% what you are looking for, I find this (Collective Moral Responsibility) a good read for anyone, especially if you have a chance to read (Searle, John R., The Construction of Social Reality).

Another excellent find is Philosophical Connections which digs pretty deep into Searle and provides connections to the works of many others. The bottom line comes to reading the following:

  • Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language (1969);
  • Expression and Meaning: Essays in the Theory of Speech Acts (1979);
  • Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind (1983);
  • Minds, Brains and Science (1984);
  • The Rediscovery of the Mind (1992);
  • The Construction of Social Reality (1995);
  • Mind, Language and Society — Philosophy in the Real World (1998);


  • 'Proper Names' (1958), in P. F. Strawson (ed.),
  • Philosophical Logic, 'How to Derive "Ought" from "Is" ' (1964), in P. Foot (ed.),
  • Theories of Ethics, and 'What is a Speech Act?' (1965), in J. R. Searle (ed.),

Hope these help and I will continue to keep an eye out for more resources for you if I find anything that isn't already covered here. Good luck.

*Bold Emphasis=[an excellent condensation of Searle's whole body of works]


As for ethics, this is something of a groundwork by him:

How To Derive "Ought" From "Is"

Also, see section 3e here: The Future Of Philosophy. "...ethics is really a branch of a much more interesting subject of practical reason and rationality. What is the nature of rationality in general and what is it to act rationally on a reason for an action?"

And finally, a chapter from his book, Rationality In Action, "How We Create Desire-Independent Reasons For Action".

Of note: Professor Searle is not a materialist. He off-handedly describes his naive or direct realism as biological naturalism. In his work he militates against the fallacies which materialism presupposes and leads to (see his answer to objection #1 in the biological naturalism link).

The traditional assumption is that mind and body, as ordinary understood, name mutually exclusive metaphysical categories. If something is mental then it cannot in that very respect be physical. If it is physical it cannot in that very respect be mental. This is the deepest mistake and it is shared by both materialists and dualists. Dualists think once you respect the reality and irreducibility of consciousness you are forced to dualism, materialists think once you accept a scientific naturalistic conception of the universe you are forced to deny the reality and irreducibility of consciousness. They are both trying to say something true but they end up saying something false.

For further clarification about Searle's position on materialism, see also his own words: https://youtu.be/6oYk7fMmfIw


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .