Volume 15, 2015
Reinach’s Theory of Social Acts
Some forty years before J.L. Austin, Adolf Reinach developed a highly articulated theory of speech acts. In this paper I present Reinach’s theory, and show some similarities and differences between his approach and the nowadays standard approaches, derived from Austin and Searle. Reinach’s work contains in fact all the cornerstones of the speech act theory. Still when comparing his theory with these contemporary approaches we can find at least two important differences. The first difference concerns what Reinach called the “primitive legal powers,” and what he construed as a part of the metaphysical essence of a person. The second one is that in Reinach’s theory we find a clear distinction between conventional normativity, originating from our performative intentionality, and genuine moral normativity, based on the intrinsic values of certain states of affairs.