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John Searle (1932-) is one of the most famous living American philosophers. A pupil of J. L. Austin at Oxford in the 1950s, he is currently Mills Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Language at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1995 John Searle published "The Construction of Social Reality", a text which not only promises to disclose the institutional backdrop against which speech takes place, but initiate a new 'philosophy of society'. Since then "The Construction of Social Reality" has been subject to a flurry of criticism. While many of Searle's interlocutors share the sense that the text marks an important breakthrough, he has time and again accused critics of misunderstanding his claims. Despite Searle's characteristic crispness and clarity there remains some confusion, among both philosophers and sociologists, regarding the significance of his proposals. This book traces some of the high points of this dialogue, leveraging Searle's own clarifications to propose a new way of understanding the text. In particular, Joshua Rust looks to Max Weber in suggesting that Searle has articulated an ideal type.
In locating The Construction of Social Reality under the umbrella of one of sociology's founding fathers, this book not only makes Searle's text more accessible to the readers in the social sciences, but presents Max Weber as a thinker worthy of philosophical reconsideration. Moreover, the recharacterization of Searle's claims in terms of the ideal type helps facilitate a comparison between Searle and other social theorists such as Talcott Parsons.
Joshua Rust was a student of John Searle's at Berkeley in the mid-1990s. He is currently at the University of California, Riverside, CA.