Reflections on the Ontology of Money


  • Uskali Mäki University of Helsinki & Nankai University


money, currency, causal powers, institutions, institutional fact, convention, realism, existence, social ontology, Searle


The suggestions outlined here include the following. Money is a bundle of institutionally sustained causal powers. Money is an institutional universal instantiated in generic currencies and particular money tokens. John Searle’s account of institutional facts is not helpful for understanding the nature of money as an institution (while it may help to illuminate aspects of the nature of currencies and money particulars). The money universal is not a social convention in David Lewis’s sense (while currencies and money particulars are characterized by high degrees of conventionality). The existence of the money universal is dependent on a larger institutional structure and cannot be understood in terms of collective belief or acceptance or agreement separately focusing on money. These claims have important implications for realism about money.


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Symposium on Money, Edited by Frank Hindriks and Joakim Sandberg