Objects have dispositions. As Nelson Goodman put it, “a thing is full of threats and promises”. But sometimes those threats go unfulﬁlled, and the promises unkept. Sometimes the dispositions of objects fail to manifest themselves, even when their conditions of manifestation obtain. Pieces of wood, disposed to burn when heated, do not burn when heated in a vacuum chamber. And pastries, disposed to go bad when left lying around too long, won’t do so if coated with lacquer and put on (...) display in a baker ’s window. Any account of what a disposition is, or of what it takes for an object to have a disposition, should be compatible with these commonplace observations. To date, I believe, no adequate account of dispositions has been given, and the aim of this paper is to defend one. (shrink)
Many philosophers, following David Lewis, believe that we should look to counterpart theory, not quantified modal logic, as a means of understanding modal discourse. We argue that this is a mistake. Significant parts of modal discourse involve either implicit or explicit reference to what is actually the case, raising the question of how talk about actuality is to be represented counterpart-theoretically. By considering possible modifications of Lewis's counterpart theory, including actual modifications due to Graeme Forbes and Murali Ramachandran, we argue (...) that no coherent version of counterpart theory can provide a plausible representation of talk about actuality, and so, we conclude, counterpart theory should be rejected. (shrink)
The glass vase on my desk is fragile. It should be handled with care because it it is likely to shatter or crack if it is knocked, dropped, or otherwise treated roughly. The vase has certain dispositions, for example the disposition to shatter when dropped. But what is this disposition? It seems on the one hand to be a perfectly real property, a genuine respect of similarity common to glass vases, china cups, ancient manuscripts, and anything else fragile. Yet on (...) the other hand my vase's disposition seems mysterious, "ethereal" (as Nelson Goodman (1954) put it) in a way that, say, its size and shape properties are not. For my vase's disposition, it seems, has to do only with its possibly shattering in certain conditions, conditions which I hope will never be realized. In general, it seems that nothing about the actual behavior of an object is ever necessary for it to have the dispositions it has. Many objects differ from each other with respect to their dispositions in virtue of their merely possible behavior, and this is a mysterious way for objects to differ. (shrink)
This paper presents a generalized form of Fitch's paradox of knowability, with the aim of showing that the questions it raises are not peculiar to the topics of knowledge, belief, or other epistemic notions. Drawing lessons from the generalization, the paper offers a solution to Fitch's paradox that exploits an understanding of modal talk about what could be known in terms of capacities to know. It is argued that, in rare cases, one might have the capacity to know that p (...) even if it is metaphysically impossible for anyone to know that p, and that recognizing this fact provides the resources to solve Fitch's paradox. (shrink)
The central question addressed in this dissertation is, What, in the most general terms, is required for an object to have a disposition? In the formal mode, this is just the question, What are the truth conditions of disposition ascriptions, sentences of the form "N is disposed to M when C"? The dissertation begins by criticizing existing answers to this question, answers which consist in accounts of disposition ascriptions according to which they entail conditionals of one form or another. By (...) developing examples due to C. B. Martin, Mark Johnston and others, it is argued that no conditional account of disposition ascriptions can be correct. Instead, a "Habitual Account" of disposition ascriptions is defended: an ascription "N is disposed to M when C" is true just in case N has some intrinsic property in virtue of which N Ms when C. This account is shown both to escape the criticisms levelled against conditional accounts, and to have independently persuasive motivation. ;Essential to the Habitual Account of disposition ascriptions is that the sentences that it makes use of, so-called "habitual sentences" of the form "N Ms when C," are not themselves to he understood as conditionals. How they are to be understood has been a matter of some debate in the recent semantics literature, and the dissertation engages with this debate by offering a novel account of the truth conditions of habitual sentences. It is argued that these sentences should be represented as containing an implicit, unpronounced adverbial quantifier, meaning something like "normally," "generally," or "typically," and a specific account of the semantic contribution made to habitual sentences by this quantifier is supplied. ;The dissertation ends by considering an issue in the metaphysics of dispositions, arguing, contrary to widespread philosophical opinion, that some dispositions are extrinsic properties of their bearers. This conclusion is shown not only to be compatible with the Habitual Account of disposition ascriptions, but also to be explained by it. (shrink)
This is a perfect overview article that serves as a general introduction to the topic of dispositions. It is composed of six sections that review the main philosophical approaches to the most important questions: Analysis of disposition ascription, the dispositional/categorical distinction, dispositions and categorical bases, the intrinsicness of dispositions and the causal efficacy of dispositions.
One afternoon in 1939, G. E. Moore held up his hands. He proceeded to make a certain gesture, first with his right hand and next with his left, while uttering the words, “Here is one hand and here is another.” Moore famously claimed to have thereby proved the existence of external things.
Consider a superagent, a being with extraordinary rational capactities. Not only are a superagent’s beliefs closed under entailment, but a superagent also has a wonderful kind of introspective awareness: whenever she believes that she doesn’t believe something, she is right—she doesn’t believe it. A superagent, then, is a being who satisfies the following two principles: (I) If p entails q, and if S believes p, then S believes q. (II) If S believes that she doesn’t believe p, then S doesn’t (...) believe p. I don’t suppose anyone thinks that there is such a thing as a superagent, or that there ever will be. But I do suppose that there could be a superagent, in the sense that it’s not conceptually impossible for a superagent to exist. Our concept of belief, whatever it is, should not be such as to rule out the possibility of a being of this kind. In this paper I expose a paradox: although our concept of belief shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a being of this kind, it apparently does.1 I end the paper by arguing that the key to solving this paradox lies in the recognition that the question of whether an agent could believe so-and-so can sometimes diverge from the question of whether it is possible that she believes so-and-so. (shrink)
MichaelFara's ‘habitual analysis’ of disposition ascriptions is equivalent to a kind of ceteris paribus conditional analysis which has no evident advantage over Martin's well known and simpler analysis. I describe an unsatisfactory hypothetical response to Martin's challenge, which is lacking in just the same respect as the analysis considered by Martin; Fara's habitual analysis is equivalent to this hypothetical analysis. The feature of the habitual analysis that is responsible for this cannot be harmlessly excised, for the (...) resulting analysis would be subject to familiar counter-examples. (shrink)
RRecently, much work has been done on G.E. Moore’s proof of an external world with the aim of diagnosing just where the Proof ‘goes wrong’. In the mainstream literature, the most widely discussed debate on this score stands between those who defend competing accounts of perceptual warrant known as dogmatism and conservativism. Each account implies a different verdict on Moore’s Proof, though both share a commitment to supposing that an examination of premise-conclusion dependence relations will sufficiently reveal what’s wrong with (...) the Proof. Parallel to this debate on Moore stands perhaps an equally interesting debate within which the Proof is critiqued as it stands in the context of the skeptical debate. On this score, MichaelFara and Ernest Sosa have weighed in with a markedly different take on Moore’s anti-skeptical ambitions and on the nature of skeptical challenges more generally. The aim of this paper will be to critically evaluate these two very distinct strands of recent work on Moore’s Proof. Part I of the paper will focus on the mainstream debate, and in Part II of the paper, I’ll focus on the parallel debate about skepticism. My critical discussion will be aimed throughout at showing how the various proposals I’ve taken as representative of these two parallel debates surrounding Moore’s Proof ultimately fall short—each for different reasons—of what a satisfactory diagnosis of the Proof would require. (shrink)
This paper addresses a solution due to MichaelFara to the Church/Fitch paradox of knowability. Fara’s solution has significant interest but the paradox can beresurrected within his approach by considering a slightly more complex sentence. The issue of what counts as an epistemological capability for enhanced agents is then discussed with some emphasis on the developmental heritage of agents and their ability to transcend conceptual frameworks.
One reason to think that names have a predicate-type semantic value is that they naturally occur in count-noun positions: ‘The Michaels in my building both lost their keys’; ‘I know one incredibly sharp Cecil and one that's incredibly dull’. Predicativism is the view that names uniformly occur as predicates. Predicativism flies in the face of the widely accepted view that names in argument position are referential, whether that be Millian Referentialism, direct-reference theories, or even Fregean Descriptivism. But names are predicates (...) in all of their occurrences; they are predicates that are true of their bearers. When a name appears as a bare singular in argument position, it really occupies the predicate position of what in this essay is called a denuded definite description: a definite description with an unpronounced definite article. Sloat provided good evidence for this. The definite article is sometimes pronounced with names in the singular: ‘The Ivan we all love doesn't feel well’. Sloat proposed a disjunctive generalization of when the definite article must be pronounced with a singular name. This essay shows that by slightly revising Sloat's generalization, we arrive at a simple, nondisjunctive, syntactic rule that governs the overt appearance of the definite article with singular names. But Ivan does not necessarily bear the name ‘Ivan’, so one might worry that the sentence “Ivan might not have had ‘Ivan’ as a name” would incorrectly be predicted false. This essay shows that Predicativism does not have this consequence by showing that incomplete definite descriptions in general and incomplete denuded descriptions, such as ‘Øthe Ivan’, in particular are rigid designators. (shrink)
An object's disposition to A in circumstances C is masked if circumstances C obtain without the object Aing. This paper explores an analogous sense in which abilities can be masked, and it uses the results of this exploration to motivate an analysis of agents' abilities in terms of dispositions. This analysis is then shown to provide the resources to defend a version of the Principle of Alternate Possibilities against Frankfurt-style counterexamples. Although this principle is often taken to be congenial to (...) incompatibilism concerning free action and determinism, the paper concludes by using the dispositional analysis of abilities to argue for compatibilism, and to show why the 'master argument' for incompatibilism is unsound. (shrink)
I propose that the meanings of vague expressions render the truth conditions of utterances of sentences containing them sensitive to our interests. For example, 'expensive' is analyzed as meaning 'costs a lot', which in turn is analyzed as meaning 'costs significantly greater than the norm'. Whether a difference is a significant difference depends on what our interests are. Appeal to the proposal is shown to provide an attractive resolution of the sorites paradox that is compatible with classical logic and semantics.
A report of a person's desire can be true even if its embedded clause underspecifies the content of the desire that makes the report true. It is true that Fiona wants to catch a fish even if she has no desire that is satisfied if she catches a poisoned minnow. Her desire is satisfied only if she catches an edible, meal-sized fish. The content of her desire is more specific than the propositional content of the embedded clause in our true (...) report of her desires. Standard semantic accounts of belief reports require, however, that the embedded clause of a true belief report specify precisely the content of the belief that makes it true. Such accounts of belief reports therefore face what I call "the problem of underspecification" if they are extended to desire reports. Such standard accounts are sometimes refined by requiring that a belief report can be true not only if its subject has a belief with precisely the propositional content specified by its embedded clause, but also only if its subject grasps that content in a particular way. Such refinements do not, however, help to address the problem of underspecification for desire reports. (shrink)
I argue that, contrary to widespread philosophical opinion, phenomenal indiscriminability is transitive. For if it were not transitive, we would be precluded from accepting the truisms that if two things look the same then the way they look is the same and that if two things look the same then if one looks red, so does the other. Nevertheless, it has seemed obvious to many philosophers (e.g. Goodman, Armstrong and Dummett) that phenomenal indiscriminability is not transitive; and, moreover, that this (...) non-transitivity is straightforwardly revealed to us in experience. I show this thought to be wrong. All inferences from the character of our experience to the non-transitivity of indiscriminability involve either a misunderstanding of continuity, a mistaken interpretation of the idea that we have limited powers of discrimination, or tendentious claims about what our experience is really like; or such inferences are based on inadequately supported premisses, which though individually plausible are jointly implausible. (shrink)
Here I propose a coherent way of preserving the identity of material objects with the matter that constitutes them. The presentation is formal, and intended for RSL. An informal presentation is in preliminary draft! -/- Relative-sameness relations—such as being the same person as—are like David Lewis's "counterpart" relations in the following respects: (i) they may hold between objects that aren't identical (I propose), and (ii) there are a multiplicity of them, different ones of which may be variously invoked in different (...) contexts. They differ from counterpart relations, however, in that they are weak equivalence relations (transitive, symmetric and weakly reflexive). The likenesses to counterpart relations make them suitable for an analysis of de-re temporal and modal predications. The difference renders the resulting counterpart theory immune to standard criticisms of Lewis's Counterpart Theory (e.g., in Hazen 1979, and Fara and Williamson 2005). (shrink)
In this paper I argue that names are predicates when they occur in the appellation position of 'called'-predications. This includes not only proper names, but all names -- including quote-names of proper names and quote-names of other words or phrases. Thus in "You can call me Al", the proper name 'Al' is a predicate. And in "You can call me 'Al'," the quote-name of 'Al' -- namely ' 'Al' ' -- is also a predicate.
Saul Kripke pointed out that whether or not an utterance gives rise to a liar-like paradox cannot always be determined by checking just its form or content.1 Whether or not Jones’s utterance of ‘Everything Nixon said is true’ is paradoxical depends in part on what Nixon said. Something similar may be said about the sorites paradox. For example, whether or not the predicate ‘are enough grains of coffee for Smith’s purposes’ gives rise to a sorites paradox depends at least in (...) part on what Smith’s purposes are. If Smith’s purpose is to make some coffee to drink, so that he can wake up and start his day, then we would be inclined to accept, and would ﬁnd it strange to deny the following sorites sentence. (shrink)
If a counterpart theorist’s understanding of the counterpart relation precludes haecceitist differences between possible worlds, as David Lewis’s does, how can he admit haecceitist possibilities, as Lewis wants to? Lewis (Philosophical Review 3–32, 1983; On the Plurality of Worlds, 1986) devised what he called a ‘cheap substitute for haecceitism,’ which would allow for haecceitist possibilities while preserving the counterpart relation as a purely qualitative one. The solution involved lifting an earlier (Journal of Philosophy 65(5):113–126, 1968; 68(7):203–211, 1971) ban on there (...) being multiple intra-world counterparts. I argue here that serious problems for ‘cheap haecceitism’ lurk very close to its surface, and they emerge when we consider the effect of using an actuality operator in our language. Among the most serious of the problems is the result that being the case in some possible world does not always suffice for possibly being the case. The result applies to any counterpart theory that employs a purely qualitative counterpart relation. The upshot is that if we are to admit haecceitist possibilities, as we should, then we must reject any purely qualitative relation as the one involved in the analysis of what might have been for an individual. (shrink)
In “Descriptions as Predicates” (Fara 2001) I argued that definite and indefinite descriptions should be given a uniform semantic treatment as predicates rather than as quantifier phrases. The aim of the current paper is to clarify and elaborate one of the arguments for the descriptions-aspredicates view, one that concerns the interaction of descriptions with adverbs of quantification.
Although Strawson’s main aim in “On Referring” was to argue that deﬁnite descriptions can be used referentially – that is, “to mention or refer to some individual person or single object . . . , in the course of doing what we should normally describe as making a statement about that person [or] object” (1950, p. 320) – he denied that definite descriptions are always used referentially. The description in ‘Napoleon was the greatest French soldier’ is not used referentially, says (...) Strawson, since it is used not to mention an individual, but only “to say something about an individual already mentioned” (p. 320). This is an example of what we may call a predicative use of a deﬁnite description, though such uses might be better illustrated by considering the false sentence.. (shrink)
Consider the following sentences: In every race, the colt won; In every race, John won.John Hawthorne and David Manley say that the difference between these two sentences raises a problem for Predicativism about names. According to the currently more standard version of Predicativism, a bare singular name in argument position, like ‘John’ in , is embedded in a definite description with an unpronounced definite article. The problem is supposed to be that permits a covarying reading that allows for different races (...) to have been won by different colts, while does not permit a covarying reading—it can be true only if there is a single John that won every race. But, the objection runs, if the name ‘John’ is really embedded in a definite description with an unpronounced definite article, then the two sentences are structurally parallel and should not differ with respect to covariation. Appealing to Jason Stanley's ‘Nominal Restriction’ , I show that the difference between the two sentences above not only does not raise a problem for Predicativism but also is actually predicted by it. (shrink)
This paper is an informal presentation of the ideas presented formally in ”Relative-Sameness Counterpart Theory”. Relative-sameness relations -- such as being the same person as -- are like David Lewis’s “counterpart” relations in the following respects: (i) they may hold over time or across worlds between objects that aren’t cross-time or cross-world identical (I propose), and (ii) there are a multiplicity of them, different ones of which may be variously invoked in different contexts. They differ from his counterpart relations, however, (...) in that they are weak equivalence relations (transitive, symmetric and weakly reflexive). The likenesses to counterpart relations make them suitable for an analysis of de-re temporal and modal predications. The difference renders the resulting counterpart theory immune to standard criticisms of Lewis’s Counterpart Theory (e.g., in Hazen 1979, and Fara and Williamson 2005). The use of sameness as opposed to similarity relations in the analysis of de-re temporal and modal predication renders the resulting truth conditions as statable in terms that proponents of Kripke’s identity-based analysis can accept. (shrink)
In this paper I trace Quine's early development of his treatment of names, first as abbreviations for definite descriptions with "Frege-Rusell" style substantive content, then as abbreviations for definite descriptions containing simple predicative content, through to a treatment of names themselves as predicates rather than as abbreviations for this or that type of more complex expression. Along the way, I explain why—despite ubiquitous claims and suggestions to the contrary—Quine never actually uses the verbized name "Socratizes".
Philosophers disagree about whether vagueness requires us to admit truth-value gaps, about whether there is a gap between the objects of which a given vague predicate is true and those of which it is false on an appropriately constructed sorites series for the predicate—a series involving small increments of change in a relevant respect between adjacent elements, but a large increment of change in that respect between the endpoints. There appears, however, to be widespread agreement that there is some sense (...) in which vague predicates are gappy which may be expressed neutrally by saying that on any appropriately constructed sorites series for a given vague predicate there will be a gap between the objects of which the predicate is deﬁnitely true and those of which it is deﬁnitely false. Taking as primitive the operator ‘it is deﬁnitely the case that’, abbreviated as ‘D’, we may stipulate that a predicate F is deﬁnitely true (or deﬁnitely false) of an object just in case ‘DF (a)’, where a is a name for the object, is true (or false) simpliciter.1 This yields the following conditional formulation of a ‘gap principle’: (DΦ(x) ∧ D¬Φ(y)) → ¬R(x, y). Here ‘Φ’ is to be replaced with a vague predicate, while ‘R’ is to stand for a sorites relation for that predicate: a relation that can be used to construct a sorites series for the predicate—such as the relation of being just one millimetre shorter than for the predicate ‘is tall’. Disagreements about the sense in which it is correct to say that vague predicates are gappy can then be recast as disagreements about how to understand the deﬁnitely operator. One might give it, for example, a pragmatic construal such as ‘it would not be misleading to assert that’; or an epistemic construal such as ‘it is known that’ or ‘it is knowable that’; or a semantic construal such as ‘it is true that’. (shrink)
Originating as a presidential address during the seventieth birthday celebrations of the British Society for the History of Science, this essay reiterates the society's long-standing commitment to academic autonomy and international cooperation. Drawing examples from my own research into female scientists and doctors during the First World War, I explore how narratives written by historians are related to their own lives, both past and present. In particular, I consider the influences on me of my childhood reading, my experiences as a (...) physics graduate who deliberately left the world of science, and my involvement in programmes to improve the position of women in science. In my opinion, being a historian implies being socially engaged: the BSHS and its members have a responsibility towards the future as well as the past.Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.Søren Kierkegaard,Journals and Papers, 1843. (shrink)
Developing countries have recently experienced a burgeoning of small-scale individual entrepreneurs (SIEs) – who range from petty traders to personal service workers like small street vendors, barbers and owners of small shops – as a result of market-based reforms, rapid urbanisation, unemployment, landlessness and poverty. While SIEs form a major part of the informal workforce in developing countries and contribute significantly to economic growth, their potential is being undermined when they engage in irresponsible and deceptive business practices such as overpricing, (...) sale of underweight or substandard products, or attempts to hoard goods, to name a few. Despite the growing interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives of small businesses in developing countries, the SIEs have received almost no attention. To address this void in the literature, we explore the reasons for the less than optimal level of social responsibility demonstrated by some SIEs in developing countries. We do so by drawing upon the existing literature to develop a comprehensive framework of social responsibility of SIEs highlighting their unique characteristics and the different contextual factors that they encounter in developing countries. Based on this framework, we then present a set of propositions specifying the influence of these contextual factors such as business environment, cultural traditions, socio-economic conditions, and both international and domestic pressures on the business practices of SIEs. The framework offers an explanation for the lack of responsible entrepreneurship of SIEs and has important implications for promoting sustainable business practices in developing countries where businesses are striving hard to survive and compete. (shrink)
Let us say that the proposition that p is transparent just in case it is known that p, and it is known that it is known that p, and it is known that it is known that it is known that p, and so on, for any number of iterations of the knowledge operator ‘it is known that’. If there are transparent propositions at all, then the claim that any man with zero hairs is bald seems like a good candidate. (...) We know that any man with zero hairs is bald. And it also does not seem completely implausible that we know that we know it, and that we know that we know that we know it, and so on. (shrink)
According to James McCawley (1981) and Richard Larson and Gabriel Segal (1995), the following sentence is three-ways ambiguous: -/- Harry wants to be the mayor of Kenai. -/- According to them also, the three-way ambiguity cannot be accommodated on the Russellian view that definite descriptions are quantified noun phrases. In order to capture the three-way ambiguity of the sentence, these authors propose that definite descriptions must be ambiguous: sometimes they are predicate expressions; sometimes they are Russellian quantified noun phrases. After (...) explaining why the McCawley-Larson-Segal solution contains an obvious flaw, I discuss how an effort to correct the flaw brings to light certain puzzles about the individuation of desires, about quantifying in, and about the disambiguation of desire ascriptions. (shrink)
In this paper I criticize a version of supervaluation semantics. This version is called "Region-Valuation" semantics. It's developed by Pablo Cobreros. I argue that all supervaluationists, regionalists in particular, and truth-value gap theorists of vagueness more generally, are commited to the validity of D-intro, the principle that every sentence entails its definitization (the truth of "Paul is tall" guarantees the truth of "Paul is definitely tall"). The principle embroils one in a paradox that's distinct from, but related to, the sorites (...) paradox. I call it the "gap-principles paradox". -/- . (shrink)
This study provides insights on sector-specific characteristics, challenges and issues that affect corporate responsibility in relation to ethnicity and gender on arts boards. Using stakeholder theory, the study explores how arts board composition sets the scene for dynamics that affect CR. Data analysis is based on interviews with 92 board members and stakeholders sitting on 66 arts boards in Australia. Results suggest that the dynamism of gender and ethnic diversity on arts boards makes them responsive to CR; however, their presence (...) does not always lead to CR. For diverse boards to lead to CR, our findings indicate the significance of board member attributes of passion, skill and capability of developing networks, irrespective of gender and ethnicity. The article advances understanding of the implications and relevance of ethnic and gender diversity on non-profit boards and contributes to an important yet under-researched body of literature. (shrink)
Based on a community psychology perspective, this qualitative study explores the community-inclusion effort of one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world. Extending the literature on workforce diversity/inclusion, we present the community-inclusive organizational framework, which signifies the dynamics of community inclusiveness of organizations highlighting key managerial accountabilities based on the community psychology perspective. Theoretical and practical implications are presented for promoting community-inclusive organizations, along with avenues for further research.
Philosophy of language is the branch of philosophy that examines the nature of meaning, the relationship of language to reality, and the ways in which we use, learn, and understand language. _The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language _provides a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of the field, charting its key ideas and movements, and addressing contemporary research and enduring questions in the philosophy of language. Unique to this _Companion _is clear coverage of research from the related disciplines of formal logic (...) and linguistics, and discussion of the applications in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and philosophy of mind. Organized thematically, the _Companion _is divided into seven sections: Core Topics; Foundations of Semantics; Parts of Speech; Methodology; Logic for Philosophers of Language; Philosophy of Language for the Rest of Philosophy; and Historical Perspectives. Comprised of 70 never-before-published essays from leading scholars--including Sally Haslanger, Jeffrey King, Sally McConnell-Ginet, Rae Langton, Kit Fine, John MacFarlane, Jeff Pelletier, Scott Soames, Jason Stanley, Stephen Stich and Zoltan Gendler Szabo--the _Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language_ promises to be the most comprehensive and authoritative resource for students and scholars alike. (shrink)
In “Descriptions as Predicates” (Graff 2001) I argued that definite and indefinite descriptions should be given a uniform semantic treatment as predicates rather than as quantifier phrases. The aim of the current paper is to clarify and elaborate one of the arguments for the descriptions-as-predicates view, one that concerns the interaction of descriptions with adverbs of quantification.
When customers like Samuel Pepys visited the shop of Thomas Tuttell, instrument maker to the king, they could purchase a pack of mathematical playing-cards. The seven of spades, reproduced as Figure 1, depicted the diverse connotations of magnets, or loadstones. These cards cost a shilling, and were too expensive for many of the surveyors, navigators and other practitioners shown using Tuttell's instruments. They provide an early example of the products promising both diversion and improvement which were increasingly marketed to polite (...) audiences. Tuttell's description of loadstone as ‘a treasure of hidden vertues’ encapsulated many contemporary perceptions of these naturally occurring magnets which were to endure throughout the century. This phrase, with its hints of concealed financial and epistemological benefits, resonates with major eighteenth-century analytical themes, such as commercialization, the opposition between vice and virtue, and the fascination with the occult in the face of Enlightenment rationality. This card is emblematic of the multiple interpretations and utilizations of magnetic phenomena during the eighteenth century. It thus provides a useful starting-point for exploring some of the disputes which arose as enterprising individuals concerned with natural philosophy promoted themselves, their activities and their products. (shrink)