40th Annual Meeting of
The Bertrand Russell Society
The University of Iowa
31 May – 2 June 2013
All events, except Lunch, Dinner and Banquet, are in EPB 109.
**All presentations are 40 minutes including questions
Friday May 31
4:00-5:00 Registration, check-in, refreshments
5:00- 5:30 Welcome from Alan Schwerin (BRS President)
and Gregory Landini, AM host
5:30 – 6:15 The Origin and Importance of Russell’s Regress
Argument for Universals
(Katarina Perovic, Univ. of Iowa)
6:30– Dinner in Iowa City (Atlas Restaurant)
8:30 Graphic Russell Notebook (Gregory Landini, Univ. of Iowa)
Saturday, June 1
8:00-9:00am Continental Breakfast in EPB 269
9:00-9:45 The Russell Tribunals, Human Rights, and International Law (Jolen Galaugher, Post doc Fellow, University of Iowa)
9:45-10:30 How Neutral was Russell’s Neutral Monism?(Russell Wahl, Idaho State)
10:30-11:15 A Paradox for Russell (Charles McCarty, Indiana University)
11:15-12:00 Russell on Propositions and Facts(David Blitz, Central Conn State University)
12:00-1:30 Lunch in Iowa City (Pedestrian Mall)
Board Meeting (Chair, Chad Trainer)
2:00-2:45 Henry Sheffer’s Notes on Russell’s Lectures on Symbolic Logic from Cambridge, Michaelmas Term 1910(Bernard Linsky, University of Alberta)
2:45-3:30 Russell’s Logical Atomism (Gülberk Koç Maclean, Mount Royal University,
3:30-3:45 Coffee break
3:45-4:30 Bertrand Russell: Reluctant Kantian (Michael Berumen, Indep.Scholar)
4:30-5:15Did Russell Understand Hegel?(Tom Riggins, New York University)
5:15-6:00 Decision Procedure for Some Modal Logics: From Wittgenstein’s N-operator to Generalized Sheffer stroke (FangFang Tang, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing)
6:00-6:45 Russell on Free Speech and Free Thought in Childhood (William Bruneau, University of British Columbia)
8:30- Banquet& Awards (The Hearth, Iowa City Pedestrian Mall)
Sunday June 2
8:00-9:00 Continental Breakfast in EPB
9:00-10:15 Russell on World Government: A Political Utopian (John Lenz, Drew University)
10:15-11:00 1948 Russell vs. 1958 Russell: Towards `That Oneness with Large Bodies
of Human Beings (Ken Blackwell, McMaster University, Canada)
11:00-11:45 Bertrand Russell on cosmopolitanism and internationalism: confronting the challenge of cultural difference (Jo Grant, Griffith Univ. Australia)
11:45-12:30 Russell’s Philosophy of the Good Life. (Karl Andersson, Sweden, Ind. Scholar)
1:00 General Meeting (Chair, Alan Schwerin)
Abstracts of the Papers:
Russell’s Philosophy of the Good Life. ( Karl Andersson, Sweden, Independent Scholar)
Aristotle distinguished between three forms of fundamental activities: the search for knowledge, episteme, the search for practical wisdom, phronesis, and the production of things, techne. For most parts of the history of philosophy, the the search for practical wisdom and its connection with ethical reflections about good and bad and right and wrong has been considered part of philosophy in general. Many scholars seem to believe that after Russell abandoned Moore’s objectivism, he turned into an emotivist claiming that moral judgments lack truth-value and remained so for the rest of his life. I believed in this myself as a well established fact, but now I’m not so sure any more. In fact Russell not only sounded as a moralist, I believe that after the publication of Human Society in Ethics and Politics, he realized that there is a big difference between disliking oysters and disliking cruelty.
Bertrand Russell: Reluctant Kantian (Michael Berumen, Independent Scholar)
I should like to begin with several sweeping statements. Firstly, that Immanuel Kant is the greatest philosopher in the western canon since Aristotle, though I would give his near-contemporary, David Hume, a very close second. And, secondly, that Bertrand Russell is the greatest philosopher since Kant. Having said so, it is not my intent to defend these assertions, which would take considerable time and effort, and reasonable philosophers would doubtless still disagree; but they do serve as an explanatory backdrop to something that has troubled me for a long time, namely, that Russell, who began his professional career as an unabashed Kantian on several central issues, came to distance himself from him at every turn, even to the point of disparagement, while, I maintain, in his last, great technical work in philosophy, Human Knowledge: its Scope and Limits, he ended with a near-Kantian, epistemological position. There were even signs of this in his earlier, “post-Kantian” works.
1948 Russell vs. 1958 Russell: Towards `That Oneness with Large Bodies of Human Beings’
(Ken Blackwell, McMaster University, Canada)
The contrasts in those years between his home life, his professional life, and his political life are too great to be ignored. Only his writing life was constant. I will base my thoughts on a study of his non-technical writings of the late ’40s and his daily correspondence and publications of the late 50s.
Russell on Propositions and Facts(David Blitz, Central Connecticut State University)
As is well known Russell argued for a correspondence theory of truth according to which a proposition is true when it corresponds to a fact, even though his view of what constitutes a proposition (whether a metaphysical, linguistic or psychological entity) changed over time, and he was plagued (especially in his logical atomist period) by the problem whether negative facts corresponded to false propositions. I examine a generic version of Russell’s proposition/fact theory (excluding the problem of the unity of the proposition) and argue that a modification of it can be maintained so long as propositions are linked to statements from which compound statements can be generated by the rules of logic, and so long as facts are made dynamic and linked to systems, of which they are a “snap-shot” in time. In an extension of Russell’s view of correspondence, the interaction of systems (including those initially responsible for the fact) and additional systems (including humans who seek the truth about reality) leads to complex situations that provide evidence for the truth or falsity of corresponding compound statements, modifying correspondence to include facts that provide evidence for a claim given specific standards of “proof” (as in law or science). The proposition/fact dichotomy is thereby embedded in, and enriched by a statement/system framework.
Russell on Free Speech and Free Thought in Childhood(William Bruneau, University of British Columbia)
Russell assigned many meanings to “freedom” during the inter-war period, partly because he had to deal with so wide a range of political and social questions–war, peace, social welfare, industrial organization, and “happiness.” But in considering young children’s education (not just their schooling), Russell was able to narrow the field of definition. Here, he could and did specify how freedom might be understood and practiced in educational settings (that is to say, in most settings). This paper briefly reviews Russell’s discussions of ‘freedom’ in his two books on education, in his practice as a school administrator-owner and a parent, and his fascinating, but too-little-known essay, “Free Speech in Childhood” (1931). The question of children’s rights, including their speech rights, seemed to Russell a pressing one. If there’s time, the presentation will include projections of images from Russell’s own childhood, along with photos from the period when he and Dora Black ran Beacon Hill School for their children and a small band of non-Russell infants.
Decision Procedure for Some Modal Logics: From Wittgenstein’s N-operator to Generalized Sheffer stroke (FangFang Tang, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing)
Wittgenstein introduces N-operator notation and hopes to form a decision procedure for logic. In 1990s, Qingyu Zhang introduces an n-placed operator to forms a new notation of propositional formulas, and improves the axiomatic system of propositional logic proposed by Anderson and Belnap in 1959, which has simple decision procedures. Following these works, I define an n-placed operator which is actually a hybrid of generalized Sheffer stroke and modality, and give a new notation of modal formulas. And then I propose some modal axiomatic systems and show the decision procedure of the proof in these systems.
The Russell Tribunals, Human Rights, and International Law (Jolen Galaugher, Post doc Fellow, University of Iowa)
The Bertrand Russell International War Crimes Tribunal was originally formed to investigate war crimes committed in Vietnam. Its first session was convened by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in 1967 and held in Stockholm. Since Russell’s death in 1970, various incarnations modelled on the original tribunal have been convened to investigate human rights violations, from the tribunal on repression in Latin America, first convened in 1974, to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine whose final session was held in New York in October, 2012. The tribunals have been characterized by critics as a ‘juridical farce’, relying on radical interpretations of international law and travestying the blindness of justice in their findings. Without themselves having the authority to impose sanctions or institute retroactive law ex post facto, the aim of the tribunals is clearly to raise global awareness concerning the systemic oppression of vulnerable people, whether carried out in accordance with or in violation of state law, with the further aim of altering the status quo. As Russell put it in his address to the 1971 tribunal on Vietnam: “We are not judges. We are witnesses. Our task is to make mankind bear witness to these terrible crimes, and to unite humanity on the side of justice in Vietnam.” In my talk, I will sketch the development of the Russell Tribunals from 1967 to the present, with a focus on both the legal framework and ‘human rights’ concepts employed in various cases. I shall conclude with some philosophical remarks on underlying questions concerning legal and moral notions of justice, and the concept of human rights in connection with international law.
Bertrand Russell on cosmopolitanism and internationalism: confronting the challenge of cultural difference (Jo Grant, Griffith University, Australia)
Bertrand Russell is one of the few thinkers of the twentieth century who can be identified as an internationalist and a cosmopolitan, both of which form integral elements of his pacifism. Many of Russell’s writings on peace can be read as attempts to negotiate the challenge of cultural difference, which appeared to him a major cause of international war. But rather than envisaging ‘peace’ as a global and homogeneous culture, he maintained that a diversity of cultures structured in the form of the nation was desirable because of their unique contributions to civilisation. It was, instead, the political apparatuses of the nation-state that encouraged national aggression and war, hence his cosmopolitanism. This paper will explore how his idea of a supra-national World Government was enhanced with a utopian vision of inter-national cooperation in art, literature, and science, and how he imagined both political cosmopolitanism and cultural internationalism together as the best means of realizing peace.
Graphic Russell (Gregory Landini, University of Iowa)
History is being set in graphic novels and illustrations for a new young audience, but the cartoonists, untrained in the complexity of their philosophical subjects, rely on old sources. Their mistakes now return in popular genre that is likely to misinform a whole new generation. In our efforts to correct the history books, perhaps a graphic illustration of our own might fight this unfortunate trend.
Russell on World Government: A Political Utopian (John Lenz, Drew University)
Bertrand Russell held the betterment of the world, not technical philosophy, to be his most important life’s work. From 1915 on, he advocated a form of world government; his views have received little attention from historians. Russell advocated establishment of a world government holding a monopoly of weapons of force. But this was not meant to increase the role of the state or even to govern. With both the state and war delimited, “a new energy could fill human life with hitherto unknown joy.” At the local level he espoused democratic and even anarchically creative freedoms. I set out Russell’s views over time and their background in utopianism, criticism of nationalism, and the universalizing scientific worldview.
Henry Sheffer’s Notes on Russell’s Lectures on Symbolic Logic from Cambridge, Michaelmas Term 1910.(Bernard Linsky, University of Alberta)
I will talk both about the notes and material in the lectures, but also about my adventures in finding the originals of the notes in a basement in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Russell’s Logical Atomism (Gülberk Koç Maclean, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada)
Bertrand Russell is known to have changed his epistemological and metaphysical views frequently, which raises the question as to whether there was any single theory or method he consistently held throughout the changes. Gregory Landini argues in Wittgenstein’s Apprenticeship with Russell (Chapter 2, 2007) that Russell’s main research program was logical atomism. Landini writes, “In spite of the rather radical changes Russell made from The Problems of Philosophy to Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits, none mark any change whatsoever in what he meant by his philosophy of logical atomism” (40). Even though Landini claims that Russell was always a logical atomist, including the later period of Inquiry (1940) and Human Knowledge (1948), he focuses on Russell’s work from “On Denoting” (1905) to Analysis of Matter (1927) to support this claim. David Bostock, on the other hand, in his recent book Russell’s Logical Atomism (2012) counters Landini’s view by stating that Russell’s positive views on particulars (reduced to complexes of universals) in Inquiry and Human Knowledge “evidently falls outside Russell’s period of logical atomism, and cannot contribute to our understanding of it” (236). My aim, in this paper, is to support Landini’s claim by showing how the later Russell’s bundle theory of particulars espoused in Inquiry and Human Knowledge also fits the logical atomist pattern, contra David Bostock, who claims that these works can have no contribution to our understanding of Russell’s logical atomism.
A Paradox for Russell (Charles McCarty, Indiana University)
This paper offers a proof, from principles of logic alone, that two famous elements of Russell’s post-1903 philosophy are incombinable logically. In particular, we demonstrate that a very, very weak form of logicism is logically inconsistent with the assumption that sentences of elementary arithmetic, a fortiori all sentences of ordinary speech, admit a basic Russellian analysis. This result does not require or employ any standard objection to Russellian logicism, e.g., that there are familiar theorems of mathematics underivable in Principia Mathematica, or that Russell’s Axiom of Reducibility is not a logical truth. Nor is it a consequence of the finding that higher-order logic is not axiomatizable; the sentences here in question are strictly first-order.
The Origin and Importance of Russell’s Regress Argument for Universals
(Katarina Perovic, University of Iowa)
In his 1912 classic The Problems of Philosophy, Russell presented his famous regress argument against the nominalist denial of the existence of universals. He argued that if a nominalist wants to avoid postulating universals such as whiteness and triangularity, he needs to find alternative ways of accounting for properties. One way of doing this is to pick out some particular say d, a particular patch of white or a particular triangle, and then take the properties of whiteness and triangularity to consist in the “right sort of resemblance” of particulars to the chosen d. But, as there are many white and triangular things, there will be many pairs of things resembling each other in the relevant way. Multiple recurrence is a characteristic of universals and Russell suggests that since the resistance to admit universals leads to an infinite regress of resemblances, a nominalist might as well have accepted the resemblance relation as a universal in the first place. In my paper I will explore what lead Russell to formulate this regress argument and the importance that this argument still holds in the contemporary debate between realists about universals and nominalists. I will argue that despite having been somewhat neglected in the recent literature on universals, Russell’s argument is still quite a powerful tool for realists.
Did Russell Understand Hegel? (Tom Riggins, New York University)
Russel’s antipathy towards Hegelian philosophy is well known. This paper discusses three manifestations of it: the chapter on Hegel in HWP, comments on Hegel from Principles of Philosophy, and views expressed in Understanding History. Russell discusses Hegel in other works as well (OKEW for one) but I think these three sources pretty much sum up his views. Recent work in Hegelian scholarship and in analytical philosophy calls into question Russell’s picture of Hegel and his philosophy. This paper attempts to give an answer to the question “Did Russell understand Hegel?”
How Neutral was Russell’s Neutral Monism? (Russell Wahl, Idaho State University)
Neutral monism is the view that the basic stuff of the world is neither material nor mental, but that the mental and material are in some sense characterized by differing relations among the neutral particulars. It was a philosophical position advocated at the end of the nineteenth century by Ernst Mach and William James, and after some hesitation, by Bertrand Russell beginning around 1919. One of the major issues that comes up concerning neutral monism is just how neutral it is. Clearly a monism which took the basic items of physics such as quarks as the basic particulars would not count as neutral and neither would a monism which takes ideas to be the basic particulars. Russell’s monism has often been criticized as not being a genuine neutral monism. Some authors have thought that while he embraced it in the Analysis of Mind, Russell abandoned neutral monism in the Analysis of Matter. I will argue that Russell did not abandon neutral monism and that his position was genuinely neutral, perhaps more neutral than either Mach or James’s, despite his 1944 remark that “I find myself in ontology increasingly materialistic, and in theory of knowledge increasingly subjectivistic,” and despite the fact that his position does not fit the requirements some, such as David Bostock, have placed on neutral monism.
Conference is in the English-Philosophy Building
(With audio-visual ready rooms.)
Here below is a url for the department webpage.
Registration and booking for the dorm: Bertrand Russell Society Meeting 5/31/2013 – 6/2/2013: https://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/UIConferences/
Click Here for information regarding the call for papers for the 2013 annual meeting of the Bertrand Russell Society: May 31-June 2.
Papers, of approximately 15-20 min. reading time, on any aspect of Russell’s work or life are welcome. Contact Alan Schwerin: aschweri@monmouth.
Student Essay Competition
Students, both graduate and undergraduate, are also encouraged to submit papers (about 10 pages) for the annual BRS Student Essay Competition. Cash prizes ($100) will be awarded to the best graduate and best undergraduate essay on any aspect of Russell’s work. Essays on Problems are especially welcome.
Papers (or abstracts) and student essays should be sent, by May 1, to:
Submit to Alan Schwerin: aschweri@monmouth.
For payment information: Michael Berumen email@example.com