Collective intentionality in economics

Making Searle's theory of institutional facts relevant for game theory


  • Cyril Hédoin REGARDS, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, France



epistemic game theory, common understanding, collective intentionality, John Searle, institutions


Economic theories of team reasoning build on the assumption that agents can sometimes behave according to beliefs or preferences attributed to a group or a team. In this paper, I propose a different framework to introduce collective intentionality into game theory. I build on John Searle’s account, which makes collective intentionality constitutive of institutional facts. I show that as soon as one accepts that institutions (conventions, social norms, legal rules) are required to solve indetermination problems in a game, it is necessary to assume a form of collective intentionality that comes from what I call a common understanding of the situation among the players. This common understanding embodies the epistemic requirements for an institution to be a correlated equilibrium in a game. As a consequence, I question recent claims made by some economists according to which game-theoretic accounts of institutions do not need to assume collective intentionality.

Author Biography

Cyril Hédoin, REGARDS, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, France

Cyril Hédoin is associate professor of economics at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne (France). His areas of specialization are in the philosophy of economics and institutional economics. He is currently working on the development of a non-individualistic understanding of game theory. He has published papers in the Journal of Economic Issues, the Journal of Institutional Economics, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Cahiers d'économie politique (in French) and OEconomia (in French).




How to Cite

Hédoin, C. (2013). Collective intentionality in economics: Making Searle’s theory of institutional facts relevant for game theory. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 6(1), 1–27.