BRS 2000 Annual Meeting Minutes

Share this page



June 3, 2000

(from the May 2000 RSN – #102)

The BRS Board of Directors held its annual meeting on Saturday June
3, 2000, in conjunction with the BRS Annual Meeting at Monmouth
University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. Ken Blackwell chaired. Peter
Stone took notes. Directors present were Stefan Andersson, Ken
Blackwell, Dennis Darland, Ray Perkins, Steve Reinhardt, Alan Schwerin,
Warren Allen Smith, Thom Weidlich, and Ruili Ye. Also present were
candidates for the Board Steve Bayne, Nick Griffin, Peter Stone, and
David White. Due to a delay in the balloting for Board positions, the
status of these four candidates had not yet been determined. The
officers of the Society therefore agreed to count these four candidates
as interim Board members and allow them to vote at the Board meeting.
Steve Bayne participated in the discussions but did not wish to take
part in any votes. This left 12 voting directors, seated and acting. The
meeting was also attended by a number of other BRS members, including
Peter Friedman, Steve Maragides, and Rachel Murray.

Thorn Weidlich moved to waive a reading of the minutes from the
last Board meeting and to approve them. He pointed out that the minutes
had appeared in the last issue of the Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly
for anyone wishing to see them, and commended Peter Stone for his work.
Ray Perkins seconded, and the Board approved the motion unanimously.

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

President – Alan Schwerin

Secretary of the Society and Board – Peter Stone

Treasurer – Dennis Darland

Vice-President – Tim Madigan. (Madigan 7 votes, Jan Loeb Eisler 2, with 3 abstentions)

Chairman of the Board – Ken Blackwell

In addition, Alan Schwerin moved that the Board create the
position Vice-President for Humanist Outreach, and appoint Jan Loeb
Eisler to this position. Dennis Darland seconded, and the motion carried
10-0, with 2 abstentions.

The Board then took up the question of the location for the 2001
Annual Meeting of the BRS. Nick Griffin proposed McMaster University. He
explained that the university was in the process of setting up a
Bertrand Russell Research Centre, which would incorporate the Collected Papers editorial project, the journal Russell,
and other projects. Holding a BRS meeting there – on what would be
approximately the first anniversary of the new center – would help
cement relations between the various Russell-related groups and
projects. Alan Schwerin seconded Griffin’s proposal. Steve Reinhardt
pointed out that the location would allow both East and West Coast
members the chance to attend, without the logistical difficulties
involved in setting up a West Coast meeting.

Alan Schwerin and Steve Maragides suggested the BRS consider
Pugwash, Nova Scotia, site of the famous first few Pugwash meetings
organized by Russell. Maragides realized this location might constitute a
hard sell to the BRS. The town is in a remote rural area; the nearest
airport is in Halifax, and travel from there to the town involves
extensive driving over rural roads. However, the town does pride itself
on its intellectual life; it is known as the “home of the thinkers,” and
its mascot is Rodin’s famous statue of that name. Maragides believes
the town might be very accommodating and helpful if the BRS inquired
about setting up a meeting there. Ken Blackwell thought a Pugwash
meeting might be worth exploring, one that might be the start of a
pattern of meetings at Russell-related sites. Such sites might include
Phoenixville, PA (where Russell lived from 1941 to 1943 and near Merion,
home of the Barnes Foundation, where Russell taught in 1941-2) and
possibly Pembroke Lodge (where Russell spent his childhood), although
the latter could pose even more formidable difficulties than Pugwash.
Steve Bayne concurred that establishing such connections with sites
associated with Russell was important for the Society. But Blackwell was
also concerned about the BRS’s continuing neglect of the West Coast.
Thom Weidlich agreed, although he has favored the idea of Pembroke Lodge
for some time. Peter Stone proposed amending the motion to meet at
McMaster University in 2001. The amendment would direct the President to
write to each of the BRS members currently residing in California to
solicit some of these members to organize the 2002 meeting on the West
Coast. Nick Griffin accepted this amendment, and the motion carried

The next item on the Board agenda concerned the Society’s
continued registration as a nonprofit corporation. Dennis Darland
proposed taking over the registration from Don Jackanicz, who has asked
the BRS to find someone else to handle the responsibilities. Darland
lives in Illinois, where Jackanicz also lives and where the BRS is
registered. By taking over the registration, Darland can save the BRS
the trouble of either reincorporating in another state or of finding a
paid agent to maintain registration in Illinois. He already has the
necessary paperwork for the job. Nick Griffin moved that Darland be made
the registered agent for the BRS, Peter Stone seconded, and the motion
carried I1-0, with 1 abstention. In addition, Stone will write to
Jackanicz, requesting that he send Darland all relevant records and
thanking him for maintaining the registration for so long (as well as
for the Red Hackle that he provided for the meeting).

The Board then began a long discussion of the status of the BRS Quarterly
(hereafter Q). Ken Blackwell explained that the Q’s haphazard
publication’ has caused difficulties for Society business; the most
recent Board elections have not yet been completed due to the tardiness
of the issue containing the ballots. Blackwell suggested that the BRS
needed either more reliable production of the Q or else a different
method for distributing ballots.

Alan Schwerin proposed dropping the Q completely. He observed
that no one seemed willing or able to do the work necessary to produce
it on a timely basis. Ken Blackwell, however, pointed out that the
Society’s Bylaws specifically required that the BRS publish a regular
newsletter. On a more practical note Thom Weidlich pointed out that for
most BRS members, the Q is the primary benefit of membership. Without
it, there is little reason for most people to consider joining. He
added, however, that the BRS employed a newsletter for many years before
switching over to the Q.

Peter Friedman suggested the BRS consider a purely Web-based Q.
Alan Schwerin, however, pointed out that many current members are not on
the Web. Peter Stone added that regardless of format, there was still a
need for an editor to publish the Q on a regular basis.

Ken Blackwell suggested that the size and scale of the project
may be what prevents regular publication; the most recent Q for example,
ran 42 pages, not counting inserts for the Board elections. Steve Bayne
concurred. Two possible solutions might include 1. making the Q
biannual, and 2. focusing the Q on discussions by the various members.
Thom Weidlich urged the Board to keep in mind that content, not cost,
was the primary obstacle. Peter Stone objected, however, arguing that
the content only lacked an editor willing to do the Q on a regular

David White proposed abandoning the Q and replacing it with a
brief (1-2 page) newsletter. Substantial articles written by BRS members
could then appear elsewhere – possibly (as Peter Friedman suggested) on
the Web. Several Board members concurred with the general idea that
this newsletter be made a less ambitious project than the current Q,
although some saw no need to carry this reduction to quite the extreme
White proposed. Friedman suggested this newsletter could focus on news
relating to Russell, news relating to the BRS, and miscellaneous
“Russell lite” material.

Alan Schwerin formally moved that the Board retire the Q and
replace it with a newsletter, effective immediately. Warren Allen Smith
seconded. Peter Stone suggested that such a motion left uncertain the
exact nature of the newsletter and, more importantly, who would edit it.
Ray Perkins proposed maintaining the current Q until some of these
points could be worked out. Ken Blackwell, however, pointed out that the
Q’s current irregular publication caused the BRS to incur much extra
worry and effort through the periodic mailings the late Q often made
necessary. In the end, the Board voted 9-2, with 1 abstention, in favor
of Schwerin’s motion. Nick Griffin then proposed thanking John Shosky
for his efforts in editing the Q. Alan Schwerin seconded; the motion
carried unanimously.

Peter Stone requested an update on the status of the revised
introductory trifold on the BRS. Thom Weidlich informed him that Tom
Stanley, BRS librarian and director, was revising it.

The Board then took up the topic of the BRS’s policy towards its
annual award. Alan Schwerin expressed concern that no award recipient
had attended the annual meeting to accept his or her award in person in
many years (the last anyone could remember was Zero Population Growth,
which sent a member to accept its award in 1995). He urged the BRS
Awards Committee, when making award decisions, to take into account the
likelihood that the recipient will accept the award in person. Steve
Bayne expressed the additional concern that the award might not mean
much to many of its recipients.

Nick Griffin, however, pointed out that the award traditionally
goes to very eminent people, and higher eminence implies a lower
probability of meeting attendance. Peter Stone added that age is also
frequently a factor; a number of recipients, such as Karl Popper, W.V.
Quine, and Irving Copi, have expressed great pleasure at receiving the
award, but age precluded their acceptance in person. In the end, the
Awards Committee, currently composed of Stone (chair), Blackwell, and
Schwerin, agreed to try to balance eminence with probability of
attendance. Steve Reinhardt added that regardless of attendance every
award recipient should be strongly encouraged to provide the BRS with a
brief statement to be read at the meeting should the recipient be unable
to attend.

The Board briefly considered the idea that the BRS advertise in
philosophical journals. Such advertisements can apparently be very
expensive; a full-page ad in Philosophy Now would cost 950
pounds. Peter Friedman and David White agreed to look into free
advertising options that would reach segments of the philosophical

Peter Stone mentioned that the Greater Rochester Russell Set (an
informal local chapter of the BRS based in Rochester, NY) had discussed a
possible means of generating publicity for the Society. The group
suggested that the BRS ask the Episcopal Diocese of New York City for an
apology for its critical role in ousting Russell from his CUNY
(formerly CCNY) teaching appointment. Thom Weidlich, author of a recent
book on the CUNY case, wholeheartedly endorsed the idea. He agreed to
ask an Episcopal priest living in New York City he knew about the idea.
He will also look into a press release on the matter, as well as the
possibility of a “Court of Public Opinion” show on the CUNY case. Steve
Reinhardt suggested that rather than an apology, the BRS more
diplomatically ask the Diocese for a “clarification of its position” on
the matter.

At the end of the meeting, Warren Allen Smith proposed that the
BRS confer honorary membership on Ibn Warraq, pseudonymous author of Why I Am Not a Muslim.
Ken Blackwell suggested postponing consideration of this proposal until
Smith could present the Board with a brief statement in support of his
nomination. Peter Stone added that this postponement could give the
Board time to conclude its current elections and seat its newly elected
members. Smith agreed to this suggestion. The meeting was then

Peter Stone, BRS Secretary



June 2-4, 2000

The Bertrand Russell Society held its most recent annual meeting at
Monmouth University, West Long Beach, New Jersey, on June 2-4, 2000.
Alan Schwerin presided. Peter Stone took notes. BRS members present were
Stefan Andersson, Steve Bayne, Ken Blackwell, Alan Bock, Pat Bock,
Edgar Boedeker, Rosalind Carey, Dennis Darland, Peter Friedman, Dave
Goldman, Nick Griffin, David Henehan, Steve Maragides, Ed McClenathan,
Mary Martin, Rachel Murray, Ray Perkins, Steve Reinhardt, Cara Rice,
Alan Schwerin, John Shosky, Warren Allen Smith, Peter Stone, Chad
Trainer, Thorn Weidlich, David White, Gerry Wildenberg; and Ruili Ye.
Non members present were Mark Couch, Jon Dobbs, Burdett Gardner, Bonnie
Gold, Rom Harre, Boris Kukso, Nancy Mitchell, Kris Oser, David Payne,
Karen Perkins, Samantha Pogorelsky, David Repa, Helen Schwerin, and Ken

On Friday night, President and conference organizer Alan Schwerin
welcomed everyone present. He then chaired a brief business meeting, at
which various officers, committee chairs, and members made reports.
Schwerin reported on efforts to secure and expand the BRS’s presence at
APA meetings. Peter Stone, Chair of the BRS Awards Committee, announced
that the 2000 Annual Award had been given to Stephen Jay Gould. Gould is
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at
Harvard, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology in the Harvard Museum of
Comparative Zoology, and adjunct member of the History of Science dept.
He is best known for his extensive writings on scientific issues for a
general audience, in the best Russellian tradition.

Ray Perkins, Chair of the Book Awards Committee, announced that
the 2000 Annual Book Award had been given to Charles Pigden for his
anthology Russell on Ethics. Pigden is a Senior Lecturer in the
Department of Philosophy at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and
the author of numerous articles on ethics and metaethics.

Alan Schwerin gave a brief tribute to Trevor Banks, a longtime
member of the BRS who passed away shortly after the 1999 annual meeting.
Banks was well known in the Society and in broader humanist and
philosophical circles for his excellent “one-man show” as Bertrand

Ken Blackwell urged members present to pay their dues for the
year, and non-members to consider joining. He also encouraged members to
vote in the elections for the Board of Directors and to attend the
Board meeting on Saturday.

Alan Schwerin then led an open discussion on Russell’s views on
religion. To focus the discussion, Schwerin played an excerpt from the
famous debate on religion between Russell and Father Copleston. The
lively discussion lasted quite late.

Stefan Andersson led off the program Saturday morning with the
paper “Russell on Mysticism (Part II).” Alan Schwerin chaired this
session, Rosalind Carey chaired the second session, which featured a
paper by Mark Couch on “Russell’s Criticism of Moore’s Proof.” Steve
Bayne then gave a talk on “Russell and those ‘Other’ Mathematicians,”
followed by David White’s presentation “Russell on the Web.” Boris Kukso
and Chad Trainer chaired these two sessions, respectively.

At this point, the meeting broke for lunch. The Board of Directors held a lunchtime meeting (see the Board minutes),

After lunch, Boris Kukso presented a paper entitled “Russell’s
Logical Atomism and Armstrong’s Philosophy of States of Affairs.” Thorn
Weidlich chaired Kukso’s presentation. Rosalind Carey spoke on
“Russell’s Working Notes on Propositions Appended to Theory of Knowledge
in a session chaired by Alan Schwerin. Nick Griffin chaired Edgar
Boedeker’s paper presentation, on “The Hidden Influence of Russell’s
Theory of Substitution on Wittgenstein’s N-operator.” And Chad Trainer
capped off the afternoon with his paper “Language: A Leading or Lagging
Indicator of Truth for Russell?” Peter Stone chaired this session.

After some free time, the BRS held its Red Hackle Hour (with real Red Hackle, courtesy of Don Jackanicz) and banquet.

Rom Harre began the Sunday morning session with a talk on
“Reference Revisited,” chaired by Alan Schwerin. John Shosky then spoke
on “Russell and Quine” in a session chaired by David White. Rosalind
Carey then chaired Ken Stunkel’s talk “Russell on History.” Thom
Weidlich followed with “On Russell’s Sexual Revolution,” followed by
Nick Griffin’s “Russell’s Logicism If Not If-Thenism,” which concluded
the Sunday morning session. Mark Couch and Stefan Andersson,
respectively, chaired the last two sessions.

The meeting ended with a short Society business meeting presided
over by Alan Schwerin and then Ken Blackwell. At this meeting, Treasurer
Dennis Darland presented annual treasury and membership reports. The
entire gathering also offered a strong show of thanks to Alan and Helen
Schwerin for their excellent work organizing the meeting; for the BRS
banner they made to hang at the meeting (and which will travel to the
2001 meeting next year); for the extremely useful bell used to ensure
sessions started on time; and last but not least for the excellent
barbecue which was to (and did) follow the conclusion of the Sunday
morning session.

by Peter Stone, Secretary, BRS