The presiding officer is called the Metaphysical Chair. In debate she is referred to by her official title. In referring to herself she should never use the personal pronoun; she generally says, "the chair", or, in special cases, “the chairness”.

Her duties are generally as follows:

Hints to Inexperienced Chairs

While in the chair, have beside you your Constitution, By-laws, and Rules of Order, which should be studied until you are perfectly familiar with them. You cannot tell the moment you may need this knowledge. You should memorize the list of ordinary notions arranged in their order of precedence, and should be able to refer to the Table of Rules so quickly that there will be no delay in deciding all points contained in it. If a member ignorantly makes an improper notion, do not rule it out of order, but courteously suggest the proper one.

The Vice Moderator

The Vice Moderator has charge of a different department of work, viz. maintaining a constant vigil for any commission of fallacies.

If it is necessary for the Metaphysical Chair to vacate the chair the Vice Moderator should take the chair, ensuring that the vigil is not relaxed.

The Scribe

The recording officer is called the Scribe. The Scribe is the custodian of its records. In addition to keeping the records of the society and the minutes of the meetings, it is the duty of the Scribe to keep a register, or roll, of the members and to call the roll when required.

In addition to the above duties, when there is only one Scribe, it is her duty to send out proper notices of all meetings, and of other meetings when necessary, and to conduct the correspondence of the society. Where there is a Corresponding Scribe these duties devolve on her. When the word "Scribe" is used it always refers to the recording Scribe if there is more than one.

The Scribe should, previous to each meeting, for the use of the chairman, make out an order of business, showing in their exact order what is necessarily to come before the assembly.


The duties of this officer vary in different societies, but mainly concern the procuring of beverages for the assembly at discount, refuelling of guest speakers, bribing of landlords, and so forth.


It is customary for every society having a permanent or putative existence to adopt an order of business for its meetings. When no rule has been adopted, the following is the order:

The Scribe should always have at every meeting a memorandum of the order of business for the use of the presiding officer, showing everything that is to come before the meeting. The Metaphysical Chair, as soon as one thing is disposed of, should announce the next business in order.

Introductory Oration

The Metaphysical Chair shall preface the main business of the meeting with a brief outline of the historical and/or philosophical context of the subject to be discussed.

Distribution Of Documents

Speakers are encouraged to provide printed outlines of the main points to be made, plus references to philosophical works.

Presentation Of Arguments

Aims, principles and conclusions should be clearly formulated and arguments well-structured.


The record of the proceedings of a deliberative assembly is usually called the Minutes. The essentials of the record are as follows:

The Form of the Minutes may be as follows:

At a regular meeting of the Downton Philosophical Society, held in their regular hostelry, on Thursday evening, March 19, 1914, the Metaphysical Chair presiding, and Ms. N acting as Scribe, the minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved.

The Society sat through a series of propositions, which were thoroughly discussed and amended.

In keeping the minutes, the duty of the Scribe is mainly to record the flow of disputation. She should enter the essentials of a record.

In many organizations it is preferable for the Scribe to keep original pencil notes in a pocket memorandum book which she carries to every meeting.


The constitution should contain only the following:


The aim of The Society is to cultivate the exploration, appreciation and assessment of philosophical problems, puzzles, issues and arguments by means of orderly, reasoned discussion on licensed premises.


Logical Propriety

All speakers (and thinkers) are required to avoid the use of fallacious arguments, as listed in the Register of Fallacies. Members are encouraged to assist The Vice Moderator in the detection of fallacies, and that officer shall deem serial offenders as guilty of poor form.

Honorary Offices

A member may be appointed Honorary Philosopher-in-Residence/Absence for services rendered. An honorary office is not strictly an office, and in no way conflicts with a member's holding a real office, or being assigned any duty whatever, the same as if he did not hold the honorary office. Like a college honorary degree, it is perpetual, unless rescinded.


Rules of Order should contain only the rules relating to the orderly transaction of business in the meetings and to the duties of the officers.

Ecological Rules


Standing Rules should contain only such rules as may be adopted without previous notice by a majority vote at any business meeting. The vote on their adoption, or their amendment, before or after adoption, may be reconsidered. At any meeting they may be suspended by a majority vote, or they may be amended or rescinded by a two-thirds vote.

No standing rule, or resolution, or notion is in order that conflicts with the constitution, or by-laws, or rules of order, or standing rules, or laws of physics.




© Paul Taylor 2006