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May 3-26, 2022: Frank Hindriks: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Constitutive Rules

Prof. Frank Hindriks

Seminar Series organized for the Doctorate School of Mind, Brain and Reasoning and of Philosophy and Human Sciences

Frank Hindriks (f.a.hindriks@rug.nl)

Professor of Philosophy, University of Groningen e Visiting Professor del Dipartimento di Filosofia

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Constitutive Rules

3 - 26 May 2022


Since its introduction in the 1960s, the concept of constitutive rule has played a central role in the philosophy of language, political philosophy, metaphysics, social ontology, the philosophy of law (and more). Its interpretation, status, and importance however have been contested, and the controversy does not seem to subside. Frank Hindriks has given important contributions to the debate, which have attracted significant attention and contributed to shape contemporary research. During his visit in Milan he will direct a series of seminars aimed at discussing classic as well as contemporary texts on constitutive rules (including some of his own). The seminars are open to graduate students as well as post-doc and senior researchers.

Venue and time: Sala Martinetti (Department of Philosophy, First Floor), 10.00-12.00 AM


  • 1. Tue, May 3
  • 2. Thu, May  5
  • 3. Tue, May 10
  • 4. Fri, May 13 
  • 5. Tue, May 17
  • 6. Thu, May 19
  • 7. Tue, May 24
  • 8. Thu, May 26




1: Social Practices and Their Justification (Political Philosophy)
-        Rawls (1955)

2: Institutional Facts and Status Functions (Social Ontology)
-        Anscombe (1958) and Searle (1995)


3: The Epistemic Rule of Assertion (Philosophy of Language)
-        Williamson (1996) and Hindriks (Working Paper)

4: How (Not) to Derive Ought from Is (Ethics)
-        Searle (1964) and Hindriks (2021)


5. Constitutive Rules and their Critics (General)
-        Conte (1988) and Hindriks (2009)

6. Blueprints and Social Constructs (Social Ontology)
-        Carpintero (2021)

7: Immaterial Artefacts (Social Ontology)
-        Roversi (2021)

8. Regulative and Constitutive: A Categorical Distinction? (Social Ontology)
-        Tuomela (Unpublished), Guala and Hindriks (2015)


To participate, contact Mrs Anna D’Anneo at the PhD office (phd.mbr@unimi.it) in advance.

Texts will be circulated prior to the seminars. To prepare, please read the text(s) closely.

Each text will be introduced by someone who makes a one-page handout.

We will discuss the paper(s) in some detail. Be prepared to ask questions and discuss.

The lecturer will put the material in context.


Anscombe, G. E. M. (1958). On brute facts. Nous, 18(3), 69–72.

Conte, A. G. (1988). Semiotics of Constitutive Rules (M. Herzfeld & L. Melazzo, Eds.; pp. 145–150). Mouton-de Gruyter.

García-Carpintero, M. (2021). How to Understand Rule-Constituted Kinds. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13164-021-00576-z

Guala, F., & Hindriks, F. (2015). A Unified Social Ontology. The Philosophical Quarterly, 65(259), 177–201.

Hindriks, F. (2009). Constitutive Rules, Language, and Ontology. Erkenntnis, 71(2), 253–275.

Hindriks, F. (2021). Can Constitutive Rules Bridge the Gap Between Is and Ought Statements? In P. D. Lucia & E. Fittipaldi (Eds.), Revisiting Searle on Deriving “Ought” from “Is” (pp. 211–238). Palgrave MacMillan.

Hindriks (working paper)

Rawls, J. (1955). Two Concepts of Rules. The Philosophical Review, 64(1), 3–32.

Roversi, C. (2021). In defence of constitutive rules. Synthese, 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-021-03424-w

Searle, J. R. (1964). How to Derive “Ought” From “Is.” The Philosophical Review, 73(1), 43. https://doi.org/10.2307/2183201

Searle, J. R. (1995). The Construction of Social Reality. The Free Press.

Tuomela (unpublished)

Williamson, T. (1996). Knowing and Asserting. The Philosophical Review, 105(4), 489–523.


The meetings will be held in English.

Participation is strongly recommended to students of the Doctoral School in Philosophy and Human Sciences and to students of the Doctoral School of Mind, Brain, and Reasoning.

Everyone interested is welcome to attend.

26 May 2022
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