Institutions and the Artworld – A Critical Note


  • Filip Buekens Tilburg University and University of Leuve
  • J.P. Smit Stellenbosch University


John Searle, Francesco Guala, game theory, art, artworld, institutions


Contemporary theories of institutions as clusters of stable solutions to recurrent coordination problems can illuminate and explain some unresolved difficulties and problems adhering to institutional definitions of art initiated by George Dickie and Arthur Danto. Their account of what confers upon objects their institutional character does not fit well with current work on institutions and social ontology. The claim that “the artworld” confers the status of “art” onto objects remains utterly mysterious. The “artworld” is a generic notion that designates a sphere of human activity that involves practices that create goals that have led to the emergence of formal and informal institutions. But those institutions, rather than magically “creating” objects subjected to esthetic appreciation, merely solve familiar and ubiquitous coordination problems created by artistic activity in ways other institutions in other areas (science, religion, education…) solve similar and/or analogous coordination problems.


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How to Cite

Buekens, Filip, and J.P. Smit. 2018. “Institutions and the Artworld – A Critical Note”. Journal of Social Ontology 4 (1). Vienna, Austria:53-66.