BRS 1999 Annual Meeting Minutes

Share this page

BRS Board and Society Meeting Minutes – 1999



June 4, 6, 1999

(from the February 2000 RSN – #102)

The BRS Board of Directors held its annual meeting on June 4 and 6,
1999, in conjunction with the BRS Annual Meeting at Monmouth University,
West Long Branch, New Jersey. Kenneth Blackwell chaired. Peter Stone
took notes. Directors present on June 4th were Stefan Andersson, Ken
Blackwell, Jan Loeb Eisler, John Lenz, Tim Madigan, Ray Perkins, Jr.,
Steve Reinhardt, David Rodier, Alan Schwerin, Warren Allen Smith, Peter
Stone, Thorn Weidlich, and Ruili Ye. Perkins and Rodier were absent from
the second part of the meeting on June 6th.

David Rodier moved to suspend a reading of the minutes from the
last Board meeting and to approve the minutes. Thom Weidlich seconded,
and the Board approved the motion unanimously.

John Lenz gave the (temporary) treasurer’s report. The group is
somewhat flush with money right now, but this is primarily because the
Society has not yet produced a Quarterly this year (Tim Madigan is currently working on a double issue for February and May). Each Quarterly
costs $700 or more. Lenz gave Peter Stone a copy of the treasurer’s
report, and Stone will make sure it gets published with the minutes.

Ken Blackwell reported on membership. The BRS had about 175
members last year and about 120 so far this year (renewals continue to
trickle in). The Board then briefly discussed the problem of declining
membership. Jan Eisler suggested that the group needed exposure,
possibly through a speaker who could talk on Russell at various humanist
events. Ray Perkins suggested t-shirts or bumper stickers. Ken
Blackwell said that finding a picture for a t-shirt that the BRS could
legally use should not be a problem. Blackwell will endeavor to find
such a picture and pass it on to Thom Weidlich, who will investigate the
manufacture of Russell t-shirts and report back to the Board about it.
Blackwell suggested that the BRS might even wish to give a t-shirt out
with membership.

The Board then briefly discussed the arrangements for the
treasurer. Dennis Darland, while still officially treasurer, has been on
leave for almost a year. John Lenz and Ken Blackwell have taken on the
duties of handling funds and maintaining the membership list,
respectively. Darland is willing to resume his duties, and several Board
members voiced the view that Darland seemed perfectly able to do so.

In addition, Peter Stone voiced concern about the monthly fees
Dennis Darland has been paying on the BRS’s bank account. Apparently,
when the treasurer’s duties were shifted from Darland to John Lenz, most
of the money was taken from the BRS account maintained by Darland,
leaving only a residual amount to keep the account open. The small
amount of money in the account requires the BRS to pay fees to keep the
account open. When Lenz transfers the BRS’s money back to Darland, this
problem should cease. Jan Eisler inquired if the BRS could earn any form
of interest on its money. Lenz will speak to Darland about this.

The Board then returned to the subject of finding new members.
John Lenz that he will try to revamp and revise a brochure about the BRS
written by Don Jackanicz. The old brochure lists Jackanicz’s address,
and Jackanicz does not wish this to continue.

Continuing on the same subject, Peter Stone suggested reviving
the position of Vice President for Information. Steve Reinhardt
emphasized that members needed to get something for their money. Thom
Weidlich remarked that it is unclear to which address people should
direct inquiries about the BRS (John Lenz conceded that this quite ad
hoc right now). Trevor Banks suggested that the newsletter should be
less technical, and Tim Madigan agreed.

Tim Madigan asked how many members of Russell-l (the listserv for
people interested in Russell) are members of the BRS. Ken Blackwell put
the figure at about 15 percent, which still constitutes a significant
portion of the BRS’s membership.

Steve Reinhardt inquired if members were getting the program of
the Annual Meeting in advance. John Lenz said that they were. Alan
Schwerin noted the difficulties in attracting people; apparently, he
posted notices about the meeting at nine different international
electronic sites with a call for papers, with little apparent results.

The Board then moved on to reports from committees. Peter Stone
noted that the Awards Committee had given the 1999 Society Award to Dr.
Henry Morgentaler, and that the Book Awards Committee had given the 1999
Book Award to Gregory Landini. Alan Schwerin hopes to use the APA as a
means to promote Russell as a scholar, but unfortunately the last BRS
session at the APA was poorly attended, with only 12 in attendance (the
Leibnitz Society drew 60-70). For the next meeting, Schwerin hopes to
have a full panel of papers and maybe even an “author meets his critics”
session (They are usually well-attended). Ken Blackwell indicated that
the BRS should continue to keep Russell-l apprised of its awards, APA
sessions, etc.

The Board then held elections for Board and Society Officers. The following officers were each unanimously elected:

President – Alan Schwerin

Vice President – Jan Loeb Eisler

Treasurer – Dennis Darland

Secretary – Peter Stone

Chairman – Ken Blackwell

The Board then took up the question of where to hold the next
meeting. Ken Blackwell indicated that the meeting could take place at
McMaster University, where the meeting has not been held in a number of
years. Tim Madigan raised the possibility of a joint meeting with the
Center for Inquiry and the Canadian Humanist Association, as the Society
did in 1994 and 1997. The Center for Inquiry et al. will have their
annual meeting in Los Angeles in May, 2000. The Society has not been on
the West Coast since 1993. Thom Weidlich raised the possibility of
meeting at Pembroke Lodge in England.

John Lenz suggested that this topic could best be resolved after
further consideration of whether the BRS should join the IHEU and/or
affiliate with the Center for Inquiry. The Board therefore agreed to
postpone the issue until the second part of the meeting.

Peter Stone then proposed a change in the bylaws of the Board.
Both the bylaws of the Board and the Society discussed committees. But
the rules were ambiguous as to whether both sets of rules referred to
the same committees, as well as the duties of these committees.
Therefore, Stone suggested amending Article 5 of the Board bylaws, which
then read

Committees may be created by the Board, to perform Board functions, and shall follow Board instructions.

To now read

Committees may be
created by the Board in accordance with the bylaws of the Society. These
committees may perform Board functions by making or implementing the
Society’s policies, and will follow Board instructions. Functions
delegated to a committee may be withdrawn by the Board at any time.

After a brief discussion, Ken Blackwell moved to amend the bylaws in
this manner. David Rodier seconded. The Board approved the change

The Board then took up the question (postponed from last year’s
meeting) as to whether the BRS should affiliate with the Center for
Inquiry. Don Jackanicz does not wish to continue to do the work to
maintain the BRS’s incorporation in Illinois.

The Society’s alternatives are to hire an agent to maintain the
Illinois incorporation, or to reincorporate as a new nonprofit in New
York based at the Center. Hiring an agent would cost the BRS about $150 a
year; it would also have to provide some information about the BRS’s
activities. Affiliating with the Center for Inquiry would (according to
Jan Eisler and other backers of the proposal) provide a permanent
address, a permanent repository, membership and bookkeeping related
services, and more. The Center has a full-time librarian to handle books
and stand in as the person on the spot to handle inquiries about the
BRS. It would also mean more exposure, particularly in humanist circles,
and a possible relationship with Prometheus Press. Ray Perkins asked if
it would solve the problem of where to have the annual meeting each
year. Tim Madigan said that the Center might be available for meetings,
but Steve Maragides pointed out that it was probably available now.

A long debate ensued on the subject. Opponents of affiliation
made the following points: 1) If the arrangement did not work out, then
the BRS would have to go through the rigmarole of re-incorporation
again, which is more difficult that maintaining an existing corporation;
2) The BRS might lose autonomy, and possibly its identity, by
affiliation with a large and highly-organized group; 3) Some members
might not like the association, and would leave; 4) With Board member
Tim Madigan no longer at the Center, it is unclear who would look out
for the Society at the Center; 5) The Society would not be able to act
independently by taking stands contrary to those of the Center; 6) It is
not obvious what the Center gets out of the arrangement; 7) The BRS
would be perceived differently, as people associated the BRS with only
one aspect of Russell’s life and thought.

Supporters of affiliation responded with the following points: 1)
The Center for Inquiry houses many groups, each of which has its own
board and “identity”; 2) The Center is anxious to spread inquiry, as its
name indicated, and the BRS incorporation would help it with that goal;
3) Association with the Center is perfectly compatible with a
multifaceted approach to Russell.

In the end, the Board decided to postpone a decision until the
second part of the Board meeting. A straw poll at the end of the
discussion indicated 4 Board members for affiliation, 4 against, and 5

Jan Eisler brought up the subject of IHEU membership. In the
past, there was a misunderstanding that the BRS was invited free into
the IHEU. If the BRS wishes to become an associate member of the IHEU,
it will cost 20 British pounds a year and require that several forms be
filled out. Eisler argued that joining would provide international
exposure. Warren Allen Smith moved that the BRS obtain an associate
membership, John Lenz seconded, and the motion carried unanimously.
Eisler will act as a liaison with the IHEU.

Peter Stone read a letter from Ramon Suzara, in which he
indicated that he has formed his own group, called “BRS-Philippines”. He
has formed this organization in response to perceived failings of the
“BRS-USA” (meaning the BRS). He argued that the Board should concern
itself with real problems in the world, as Russell did, rather than just
talking about them. John Lenz pointed out that this subject has come up
before, but the Society has always been unsure what it could do beyond
discussing such topics at its meetings.

Alan Schwerin asked if this new organization generated any legal
issues by using the BRS’s name. John Lenz responded negatively, but
Peter Stone suggested that the real harm might come through damage to
the BRS’s reputation, particularly in the 3rd World.

As far as taking action on various issues, Ken Blackwell
indicated that nothing prohibited the BRS from doing so. (Thorn
Weidlich, however, disagreed.) In that spirit, Blackwell raised the
issue of whether the BRS should take a position on the war in
Yugoslavia. Steve Maragides pointed out that the BRS had previously had a
large battle over the issue of the Society taking public positions on
various issues. Lee Eisler, who was involved in these disputes, had
argued that the only appropriate issues would be those on which, Russell
himself took a clear stance (nuclear disarmament, for example).

Charles Krantz asked if the Russell Peace Foundation had taken a
position on the Yugoslav war (No one knew). Peter Stone asked if the BRS
had ever taken a position on U.S. military actions. (It hadn’t.) Stone
requested that the Board take up the issue again in the second half of
its meeting.

Ken Blackwell went over the BRS’s various committees, with an eye
to keeping them fully staffed. The BRS now has the following

1) Book Awanls (Ray Perkins-chair, Ken Blackwell, Nick Griffin,
Russell Wahl, and Keith Green) The Board agreed that this committee was
best kept small to maximize the chance that its members can actually
read the books eligible for the award.

2) Elections (Ken Blackwell-chair) The Board recognizes that
Blackwell will ask some individuals to serve on this committee as

3) BRS Awards (Peter Stone — chair, Alan Schwerin, Ken Blackwell) Schwerin will replace John Lenz on this committee.

4) Paper Awards (Alan Schwerin-chair, John Lenz, Tim Madigan)

5) APA (Alan Schwerin-chair, David White) The Board would like to ask John Shosky if he would serve.

In addition, the Board considered whether to create some sort of
student outreach committee (mostly targeting college students, but
possibly also high school students). Jan Eisler and Tim Madigan will
both speak to Derek Araujo about serving on such a committee. In
addition, Steven Bayne has suggested the Board create a committee to
promote the BRS. Alan Schwerin suggested combining these two proposed
committees, and John Lenz suggested that all of these duties might fall
under the aegis of a Vice President for Information, if the position is
recreated. The Board ended the discussion without a final resolution.

At the end of the first part of the Board Meeting, Ken Blackwell
suggested the BRS consider streamlining its functions in light of its
membership problems. Jan Eisler replied that the BRS needs to make an
extra effort to recruit membership, possibly through some sort of
spokespeople and/or speaking tours. The Board will discuss the issue
further at a later date.

The second part of the Board Meeting commenced with the following three items of unresolved business:

1) Picking a site for the 2000 Annual Meeting;

2) Deciding the question of affiliation with the Center for Inquiry; and

3) Considering whether the BRS should take a position on the war in Yugoslavia.

On issue #1, Ken Blackwell announced that the Society had five
somewhat viable possibilities on the table – McMaster University;
Rochester, N.Y.; Los Angeles, CA; Pembroke Lodge, UK; or West Long
Branch, NJ (i.e., having the meeting at Monmouth again). Tim Madigan
pointed out that the BRS could simply have a session at the upcoming LA
humanist meeting without moving the entire Society meeting there. Both
Madigan and Eisler will be at the meeting, so there will be people on
site to coordinate a BRS presence. They could organize one or two
sessions along a “BR as humanist theme.” Blackwell added that if at
least three directors attend, the BRS could have an additional Board
meeting there, providing there is business that needs to be discussed.
On a similar note, Alan Schwerin added that the BRS could have a Board
meeting at the APA’s West Coast meeting if enough directors attended and
the need was there. Jan Eisler moved that the BRS at least have a
presence (if not an entire annual meeting) at the upcoming humanist
meeting in LA. Tom Weidlich seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
John Lenz will provide brochures (possibly old ones with a sticker over
Don Jackanicz’s address) to Madigan and Eisler for the meeting, and
Madigan will find speakers for the BRS section. In addition, both Eisler
and Madigan would look into finding people on the West Coast who might
be willing to help arrange a future BRS meeting out west.

Gerry Wildenberg indicated that the BRS members in Rochester
would need some time to investigate the matter before committing to
hosting an annual meeting. He will look into the matter. In the
meantime, the BRS will hold off on planning a meeting in Rochester for
at least a year.

Thom Weidlich and Tim Madigan will investigate a possible meeting
at Pembroke Lodge. Again, the BRS will hold off on a meeting there
until the two Board members can report back on the matter.

Jan Eisler expressed an interest in knowing where the members
were, so that future meeting plans could take this into account. Ken
Blackwell indicated that a geographic breakdown of the membership would
appear in a forthcoming issue of the Quarterly.

Alan Schwerin indicated his willingness to host the meeting at
Monmouth University again, provided he could convince the University to
support it. He believed that would prove no problem. He had high hopes
that he could improve on what was already (in the eyes of those
assembled) a fine meeting.

Stefan moved that the BRS hold its 2000 Annual Meeting at
Monmouth, provided that Alan Schwerin provided accurate directions to
the university. (Actually his directions were not bad at all.) Thorn
Weidlich seconded. The Board agreed unanimously with the proposal, the
first time that the BRS will hold its annual meeting at the same
location in two consecutive years.

The Board agreed that the meeting would take place on June 2-4,
2000. Peter Stone noted, while expressing appreciation to Schwerin for
undertaking the huge task of planning two meetings in a row, that the
BRS should not give up on either joint meetings with the Center for
Inquiry or the idea of a West Coast meeting.

Ken Blackwell moved that the Board recognize the desirability of
holding the annual meeting on the West Coast in 2001. Stone seconded and
the motion carried unanimously. Thorn Weidlich expressed satisfaction
that plans were in the works for future years, including possible
meetings in England, Rochester, and (in a pinch) Hamilton.

With regard to issue #2, various people once again raised
concerns about affiliation with the Center for Inquiry (identification
with militant humanism, lack of information, etc.), as well as various
defenses of the idea (not all of the groups at the Center are militantly
humanist). Stefan Anderson moved that the BRS obtain a registered agent
for one year while looking into more information about the matter of
affiliation. Tim Madigan seconded. Peter Stone pointed out that much of
the devil here was not in the details, but in broader concerns (about
independence, image, autonomy, etc.) that further information would
probably not resolve. The Board passed the motion 8-2, with one
abstention. Stone then moved that Tim Madigan, who will visit the Center
shortly, be provided with questions from the Board for which he could
obtain answers, so that the matter could be resolved. Andersson seconded
and the motion passed 10-0, with one abstention.

On issue #3, the Board discussed the matter very briefly. Charles
Krantz expressed concern that perhaps the timing was wrong for a
position on the Yugoslav war.

Laurie Thomas regretted that people she knew from the
American-Yugoslav Friendship Committee could not attend. She also
discussed some of the factors involved that would point in favor of
taking a position. Gerry Wildenberg questioned whether the BRS should
ever take a position on political issues. Steve Reinhardt suggested that
in the future the BRS designate an hour or two for general “bull
sessions” on issues of the day. He also suggested that the Quarterly
would make an excellent vehicle for such discussions. In the end, the
Board took no action on this matter.

Peter Stone, BRS Secretary



June 4-6, 1999

The Bertrand Russell Society held its annual meeting at Monmouth
University, West Long Beach, New Jersey, on June 4-6, 1999. John Lenz
and Alan Schwerin presided. Peter Stone took notes. BRS members present
were Bob Ackerman, Stefan Andersson, Trevor Banks, Steven Bayne, Ken
Blackwell, Russell Dale, Jan Loeb Eisler, David Goldman, Keith Green,
Jose Idler, Charles Krantz, John R. Lenz, Timothy Madigan, Steve
Maragides, Mary Martin, Gary Ostertag, Ray Perkins, Stephen J.
Reinhardt, Henrique Ribeiro, Cara Rice, David Rodier, Alan Schwerin,
John Shosky, Warren Allen Smith, Peter Stone, Laurie Thomas, Chad
Trainer, Thom Weidlich, David White, Gerry Wildenberg, and Ruile Ye.
Non-members present were William Cornwall, Thomas Drucker, Burdett
Gardner, Terri Gillis, Bonnie Gold, Carl Koreen, Jill LeBihon, Chris
Lubbers, Guy Oakes, Karen Perkins, Samantha Pogorelsky, Helen Schwerin
and Santiago Zorzopulos.

On Friday night, President John Lenz welcomed everyone present,
and complimented Steve Reinhardt for remaining the only member to have
attended every meeting. Lenz then pointed out that the conference had
attendees from many exotic places, including Portugal, Venezuela,
England, Canada, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rochester, New York (which
provided about ten percent of the meeting attendees). He also urged
members to make sure they renewed (and paid for their meeting
registration and accommodations), thanked the BRS for the years he spent
as an officer, and acknowledged the hard work of the other officers
(especially Ken Blackwell, who has been serving as temporary membership
supervisor). Finally, he pointed out that the Society had been unable to
procure Red Hackle for the meeting, and so members would have to make
due with “honorary” Red Hackle.

Chairman Ken Blackwell also welcomed meeting attendees, and urged
them to attend the two-part Board meeting to be held that evening and
later on in the weekend. Alan Schwerin concluded the welcoming remarks
by expressing his pleasure that so many people had attended. Some, like
Chandrakala Padia (from the BRS’s chapter in India) were hoping to
attend but could not, yet the turnout was quite good, and others
(including a contingent from American University to rival Rochester’s
large delegation) would be arriving the following day. The number of
attendees had made for a tight program, and Schwerin reminded everyone
that they would have to keep closely to the schedule in order for every
speaker to have a chance.

Ray Perkins, Chairman of the BRS Book Award Committee, presented
the 1999 Annual Book Award in absentia to Gregory Landini for his book Russell’s Hidden Substitution Theory
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). Peter Stone, Chairman of the
BRS Award Committee, presented the 1999 Annual Society Award in
absentia to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, and will hopefully be able to present
the award in person to Morgentaler when Stone visits Toronto next week.

Jan Eisler told the meeting that BRS Honorary Member Antony Flew
had recently visited Florida. Eisler hosted Flew there, and a great many
people had the chance for stimulating interaction with the famous
philosopher. Steve Reinhardt mentioned that Random House’s recently
issued list of the 100 greatest nonfiction books published in English in
the 20th century included Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica.
Two or three weeks earlier, the New Yorker ran a light and entertaining
piece on this fact. The article was later photocopied and distributed
to all interested parties.

The BRS Board of Directors then held the first part of its Annual Meeting for the remainder of the evening (see notes above).

Stefan Andersson began the program Saturday morning with the
paper “Is Russell a Mystic?”. Jose Idler then gave a paper entitled “The
Human Project in Bertrand Russell” (This paper won the 1999 Prize for a
paper by a graduate student). John Lenz chaired this session. Peter
Stone chaired the next session which contained a presentation by John
Shosky on A.J. Ayer entitled “Hamlet’s Horatio” and a paper by Ray
Perkins called “Russell’s Preventive War Phase.” During his presentation
Shosky invited all BRS members to attend a conference on Russell and
Wittgenstein to be held at American University on March 25-26, 2000. He
thanked David Rodier for helping to make this conference possible.

After lunch, the program continued with a session chaired by Alan
Schwerin. The two papers in this session were by David Rodier
(“Russell’s Reading of Plato’s Theaetetus”) and Tim Madigan
(“Russell’s Evasion of Evolution”). The next session, chaired by Ken
Blackwell, featured Keith Green’s “It Means ‘All Ravens are Black’:
Russell Against Ordinary Language Philosophy” and Henrique Ribero’s “The
Present Relevance of Bertrand Russell’s Criticism of Logical

After some free time, the BRS held its Red Hackle Hour (sans Red
Hackle) and banquet. Entertainment at the banquet was provided by Trevor
Banks and his talk “The Lord of Laughter: Russell’s Triumph Over
Solitude and Solemnity.” On Sunday morning, the program continued with
Steven Bayne’s paper, “The Problem of Asserted vs. Unasserted
Propositions for General Philosophy” and Alan Schwerin’s “Russell on
Vagueness.” Keith Green chaired the session. In the course of his talk,
Schwerin indicated that he had joined the three Poles and three Texans
who had read (or at least, looked at every page of) Principia Mathematica.

He is looking for references to “vagueness” in Principia, and has
not found any. He will give a bounty of ten dollars to the first person
who can find such a reference. (Ray Perkins won: the reference is on
page 12.) Ken Blackwell then doubled the bounty, offering a like amount
for every joke found within the book. (Gerry Wilderberg suggested that
one likely joke would be any sentence starting with “The reader who has
followed me up to this point…”)

There followed three more sessions, designed to accommodate the
large number of papers without requiring double sessions. First, Ken
Blackwell spoke on “New Works in Russell Studies.” Then Russell Dale
discussed “Bertrand Russell and the Theory of Meaning,” and Samantha
Pogorelsky talked about “Reflections on the Self.” The program continued
with Santiago Zorzopulos speaking on “Russell and Wittgenstein” and
Chris Lubbers presentation “On Russell’s Gray’s Elegy Argument in ‘On
Denoting.’” This final session ended with Gary Ostertag’s “Russell and
the Anxiety of Influence: The Case of E.E. Constance Jones.” Stefan
Andersson chaired the first session, while Alan Schwerin chaired the
next two.

There followed the Society’s Business Meeting, which blended into
the continuation of the meeting of the Board of Directors (see above).
The meeting ended with a delicious barbecue at the home of Alan and
Helen Schwerin.

Peter Stone, BRS Secretary



CASH FLOW, JANUARY 1, 2000-MARCH 31, 2000

BALANCE ON DECEMBER 31, 1999: $5,994.04


Contributions, BRS: 110.00

Totals 110.00


New Members 190.00

Renewals 1,729.00

Total Dues 1,919.00

Library Inc 24.40

Total Inflows 2,053.40


Bank Charges 3.18

Newsletter 24.77

Russell Sub 1,886.00

Total Outflows 1,913.95

Overall Total 139.45

BALANCE ON MARCH 31, 2000: $6,133.49

Dennis Darland, BRS Treasurer