Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-6g96d Total loading time: 0.253 Render date: 2022-07-03T17:50:36.267Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

John Searle on the concept of political power, the power of states and war-making: why states demand a monopoly of the organisation and use of soldiers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 February 2011

THORVALD GRAN*
Affiliation:
University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

Abstract:

John Searle has developed a strong theory of how speech acts and agreements generate institutions. How is the general theory specified for political institutions? He, like Max Weber, suggests that a government monopoly of soldiers is a condition for the existence of political institutions. However, governments' wielding of force is only political if those attacked consider the attack a responsible and a morally acceptable act. All political power in Searle's theory is deontic. It is assigned as a right, an obligation or the like, as a status function. If power wielding by a government is not assigned, it is beyond the political; it is only brute force. My contention is that this distinction limits the power of Searle's theory in the analysis of politics. From the idea of political institutions as ultimate institutions in a specific, bordered territory it is the strong idea of deonticity that is misleading. Ultimate institutions cannot by definition have externally assigned status. Leaders of other ultimate institutions can accept their existence, but then mainly because they have the military power to defend their borders. Nation states, demanding territorial sovereignty, therefore logically demand a monopoly of soldiers. This sovereignty seen over time suggests an evolutionary first principle of political institutions.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The JOIE Foundation 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Agamben, G. (2010), Homo Sacer, Rakkestad: Valdisholm Forlag.Google Scholar
Balzer, W. (2002), ‘Searle on Social Institutions: A Critique’, Dialectica, 56 (3): 195211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bishai, L. and Behnke, A. (2007), ‘War, Violence and the Displacement of the Political’, in Odyssesos, L. and Petito, F. (eds.), The International Political Thought of Carl Schmitt: Terror, Liberal War and the Crisis of the Global Order, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 107123.Google Scholar
Casanova, J. (1992), ‘Private and Public Religions’, Social Research, 59 (1): 1758.Google Scholar
Derrida, J. (1992), ‘Force of Law: The “Mythical Foundation of Authority”’, in Cornell, D., Rosenfeld, M. and Carlson, D. G. (eds.), Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice, New York and London: Routledge, pp. 2425.Google Scholar
Edmonds, M. (1988), Armed Services and Society, Leicester: Leicester University Press.Google Scholar
Gellner, E. (1987), Culture, Identity and Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Gellner, E. (2006) [1983]), Nations and Nationalism, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Gran, T. (2005), ‘The Contraction and Detraction Thesis. A Theory on Power and Values Conflicts in Democracies’, in Larsen, S. U. (ed.), Theory and Methods in Political Science, Boulder: CO: Social Science Monographs, pp. 335362.Google Scholar
Hardin, G. (1968), ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, Science, 162: 12431248.Google ScholarPubMed
Heilbronner, R. (1993), The Making of Economic Society, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
Jacobsen, K. D. (1964), Teknisk hjelp og politisk struktur, Oslo: University Publishers.Google Scholar
Judt, T. (2008), ‘What Have We Learned, If Anything?’, New York Review of Books, 55 (7).Google Scholar
Krasner, S. (1984), ‘Approaches to the State: Alternative Conceptions and Historical Dynamics’, Comparative Politics, 16: 223246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lukes, S. (2006), ‘Searle and his Critics’, Anthropological Theory, 6 (1): 511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mansbridge, J. (1994), ‘Using Power/Fighting Power’, Constellations, 1 (1): 5373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marks, R. (2002), The Origins of the Modern World. A Global and Ecological Narrative, New York: Rowan and Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
Nettl, J. P. (1968), ‘The State as a Conceptual Variable’, World Politics, 20 (4): 559592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ostrom, E. (1990), Governing the Commons, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Østerud, Ø. (1984), Nasjonenes selvbestemmelsesrett, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
Pizzorno, A. (1990), ‘On the Rationality of Democratic Choice’, in Birnbaum, P. and Leca, J. (eds.), Individualism: Theories and Methods, Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Rokkan, S. (1975), ‘Dimensions of State Formation and Nation-Building: A Possible Paradigm for Research on Variations Within Europe’, in Tilly, C. (ed.), The Formation of National States in Western Europe, Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Schmitt, C. (1996), The Concept of the Political, translated by Lomax, H., Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Schmitt, C. (1999), ‘Ethic of State and Pluralistic State’, in Mouffe, C. (ed.), The Challenge of Carl Schmitt, London: Verso.Google Scholar
Searle, J. (1995), The Construction of Social Reality, New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
Searle, J. (2001), Rationality in Action, Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Searle, J. (2007), Freedom and Neurobiology. Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power, New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Searle, J. (2010), Making The Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization, New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tilly, C. (1985), ‘War Making and State Making as Organized Crime’, in Evans, P. B., Ruschemeyer, D. and Skocpol, T. (eds.), Bringing the State Back In, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 169192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weber, M. (1947), The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, translated by Henderson, A. M. and Parsons, T., Parsons, T. (ed.), New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
1
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

John Searle on the concept of political power, the power of states and war-making: why states demand a monopoly of the organisation and use of soldiers
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

John Searle on the concept of political power, the power of states and war-making: why states demand a monopoly of the organisation and use of soldiers
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

John Searle on the concept of political power, the power of states and war-making: why states demand a monopoly of the organisation and use of soldiers
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *