Posted: July 22nd, 2016

Consider Seumas Miller’s comments on Searle’s discussion of deontic powers

Consider Seumas Miller’s comments on Searle’s discussion of deontic powers:

Consider an incompetent surgeon who is incapable of performing a successful operation on anybody. . . By virtue of being a fully accredited surgeon this person has a set of deontic properties, including the right to perform surgery, and others have deontic properties in relation to him . . .Moreover, these deontic properties are maintained in part by, say, the Royal College of Surgeons, his colleagues and the community. However, the surgeon simply does not possess the substantive functional capacities of a surgeon. The deontology is there but the underlying functional capacities are not. Accordingly, it is arguably false to claim that he is a surgeon. If someone cannot perform, and knows nothing about, surgery he is surely not a surgeon, irrespective of whether he is the possessor of the highest professional qualification available, is treated as if he were a surgeon, and indeed is widely believed to be the finest surgeon in the land . . .

How would Searle respond, do you think? Do you find anything objectionable in Miller’s claims here? Explain clearly. 

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