The present paper aims at scrutinising whether a collective factor whatsoever has been needed
to explain the emergence or persistence of money. To choose Menger (1892) and Searle (1995) for
this discussion has some exemplary value as both are considered to defend opposing positions. As
we shall see Searle considers the presence of collective intentionality as a necessary precondition
for institutions like money to occur, whereas Menger bases his account on the sole pursuit of selfinterest
of the agents. However, we are justified in comparing them because, as Tieffenbach (2010,
191 – 193) points out, both see their task in giving a logical and conceptual account of how
institutions emerge and take for that purpose money as their “favourite example”.
The intention of this paper resides in a direct comparison of both primary texts, evaluate the
comparability and seek actively for shared grounds in their concepts with the following objective:
in the best case reveal aspects of compatibility or coincidence, but at least soften their seeming
opposition. It was though a critical stance toward Menger's postulation that uniquely the selfinterest
of agents made money emerge which motivated this paper. I was convinced that there must
be a collective factor à la Searle in the emergence of money. In this sense, it is moreover a pursuit
of proving my impressions and a defence of Searle rather than a neutral comparison. However, on
my way through dealing with both authors I realised that I was pushing Searle's position quite far –
but still in way he would not disapprove – in order to make it compatible with Menger's account. In
this sense, the loss of strength of Searle's account through my reading allows me to talk about a fair
comparison with a tendentious starting point. In any case, the reader will find several struggling
moments throughout my quest for shared grounds (most of all in section 3.1).
Current Themes in Institutional & Evolutionary Economics 06/11/2011 Darian Heim
Vromen (2003, 257)2 made an suggestion to differentiate between the emergence and
persistence of money. Eventually, this differentiation appeared to be a good tool for my project.
Although Searle and Menger focus mainly on the emergence of money, considerations of its
persistence – which are nonetheless found in their writings – will help us to reveal their
commonalities. Any the less, the main aim of this paper is to find parallels with regard to the
emergence of money. Still, revealing their commonalities will turn out easier by focusing on
considerations about the persistence of money (section 3.2).
The following section is dedicated to a reconstruction of the relevant positions of the two
authors with regard to our task of comparing them. It will be represented in such a manner to make
their opposition understandable, i.e. by insisting on their differences. Section 3 will urn the issue
and present the proper comparison along...