Hunter Paper Published in Notes and Records of the Royal Society

Michael Hunter’s paper ‘The Royal Society and the decline of magic’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society (January 2011), which he presented presented to the Society last year in an earlier form, is now available online. We’re even mentioned in the acknowledgements!


Whereas some have asserted that the early Royal Society actively sought to discredit magical beliefs, others have seen ideas of this kind as integral to the Society’s ‘nature’ in its early years. This paper argues that, whatever the magical commitments of individual Fellows, the Society’s corporate policy simply sidelined such pursuits. Yet, insofar as the result was that magic was excluded by default from the proper realm of scientific enquiry, this attitude was to prove paradoxically influential (although its roots have been retrospectively misconstrued to an extent that is significant in itself).

You can read the paper here:

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