Here are a few quick thoughts about the relation between belief and social facts, feel free to read them or skip straight down to the Quote bellow if you just want to answer the poll about it.
An interesting feature of social reality is that, it seems to be, at least partially, constituted by what people believe about it. For example, part of what makes the pieces of paper in my pocket money is that we believe things like them to be money.
On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like we can just conjure up any social fact by believing it to be so. I think this is the case for two reasons:
Firstly, it seems like social facts require belief on a social scale, we all (or at least most of us or alternatively those with a certain authority) have to believe it to be money. If only I believe something to be money will be both unlikely to get me far and factually incorrect.
Secondly, social facts seem to be also constituted by their actual functional character (regardless of our beliefs about this character). Take the money example, for something to be money we must both (collectively) believe (in some way) it to function as a means of exchange and it must actually function as a means of exchange for us.
Anyway now for the pre-theoretical intuition poll – read this quote from John Searle and say if you think that his cocktail party is really a war:
“Suppose, we decide to we are going to have a cocktail party and we invite the whole population of Wilmersdorf, and we have a hell of a great cocktail party. But suppose that things get out of hand and the casualty rate is worse than the battle of Gettysburg. All the same, it’s not a war. It’s not a war unless people think it’s a war. As long as they think that it is a cocktail party then it’s a cocktail party , it’s just one hell of a cocktail party.” John Searle, 1998