2012 Conference on Bioethics

The First Claremont International Jain Conference on Bioethics: Religious and Spiritual Approaches

August 24-25, 2012

Claremont Lincoln University, Mudd Auditorium
1325 N. College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

The rapid growth of the medical sciences and of medical technologies has given doctors the ability to diagnose and to cure as never before. At the same time, these breakthroughs raise perplexing ethical questions: when does life begin, and when does it end? When is the quality of life so compromised that doctors should cease further interventions? What is informed consent? What constraints should apply to research on human subjects? And, above all, how can the sanctity of life be preserved? This conference will bring the resources of Jainism, of the dharma traditions of India, and of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions in general, to bear on the most difficult bioethical questions of our day.

Keynote speakers:

Dr. Brian Cummings (UC Irvine)
“Stem Cell Therapies for Neurological Disorders: What is the science, what is the hype?”

Dr. Cromwell Crawford (University of Hawaii)
“Can Religions Contribute to Understanding Bioethics?”

D.K. Bobra, M.D. (Vascular Surgical Associates, Phoenix, AZ)
“Living with Non-Violence”

Dr. James Hughes (Trinity College, CT)
“How Do We Care for Future People?”

Presenters include:

  • Dr. Ram Agarwal (University of Miami): “Hindu Bioethics in the Present Medical Context”
  • Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya (Buena Vista University): “Creative Women, Babies & Science: An Inter-weaving of Culture, Religion & Bioethics”
  • Whitny Braun (Claremont Graduate University): “Sallekhana: The Ethicality and Legality of Religious Suicide in the Jain Religious Community and the Ramifications of its Practice for Future Generations”
  • Dr. Christopher Key Chapple (Loyola Marymount University): “The Bioethics of Death in Jainism”
  • Dr. Predrag Cicovacki (College of the Holy Cross): “Reverence for Life Versus Killing”
  • Seth Clark (Claremont Graduate University): “Reincarnation and Near Death Experiences: Dealing with Death from a SGI Buddhist Perspective”
  • Brianne Donaldson (Claremont Lincoln University): “Why Animals Need Jainism to Differ with Science: A Jain Intervention in the Discourse of Bioethics”
  • Rabbi Elliot Dorff (American Jewish University): “Rachel said to Jacob, ‘Give Me Children or I Shall Die’”
  • Dr. Gary L. Francione (Rutgers University): “Jainism and Vivisection: The Problems of Moral Relativism, the Defense of Self/Others, and Consequentialist Analysis”
  • Dr. Robert Hesse (President, Contemplative Network): “Conscience and Consciousness”
  • Dr. Subhash C. Jain (University of Iowa): “Karma Doctrine and Bioethics”
  • Dr. Varsha Mehta (University of Michigan): “Ethical Dilemmas of Neonatal Practice”
  • Dr. John Ray Peteet (Harvard Medical School) and Thomas Peteet, M.D. (Family Medicine Resident, Boston Medical Center), co-presenters: “Signature Religious Virtues in Bioethics”
  • Dr. Surendra Singh Pokharna (Former Scientist, Indian Space Research Organization): “Exploration of General Systems Theory and Jain Philosophy”
  • Jain Samani Unnata Pragya (Florida International University): “Is Ethics to Render Justice, Punish or Empathize? (A Jain Ethical Perspective in Context of Disabled Children)”
  • Jain Samani Dr. Chaitanya Pragyaji (Florida International University): “Sallekhana and Euthanasia: A Question of Sanctity and Bioethics”
  • Dr. Faisal Qazi (President, Medical Network Devoted to Service [MiNDS]): The Degree of Certainty in Brain Death: Probability in Clinical and Islamic Legal Discourse”
  • Rabbi Harold Rabinowitz (author of Religion in America): “Why a Jew Should Care what a Jain Believes: The Evolving Jewish Ethic of Human-Animal Relations”
  • Dr. Nitin Shah (Loma Linda University): “Religion of Humanity”


Register Here

General Registration: $55
Non-Claremont Students: $30
Claremont Students: $15
Claremont Faculty/Staff: free (please register here)

Registration includes (vegan) Jain food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on both days; and transportation from Claremont Lincoln University to the Jain Center of Southern California in Buena Park on Saturday, August 25th, for a dinner hosted by the Jain community, followed by a Jain cultural program.

Read the press release.

View the Bioethics Conference Flyer.

Travel and Hotel Information


The conference hotel is the Claremont DoubleTree, 555 W. Foothill Blvd. in Claremont; (909) 626-2411. You can make reservations at a reduced rate until Friday, August 3rd at the Jain Conference Group Page.   After August 3rd, the room rates return to their regular seasonal prices.  The DoubleTree Hotel is 0.5 miles from campus, or a 10-minute walk.

Other accommodations can be found at Hotel Claremont; (909) 621-4831 (3 miles from campus) or Casa 425; (866) 450-0425 (in Claremont Village, 1.3 miles from campus).  There are also lodgings in nearby cities.


The Ontario International Airport (ONT) is 15 minutes from Claremont by car. Taxis are available outside the baggage area (approx. $20-25 for a ride to campus) or you can book a shuttle here.

The Los Angeles International Airport is 50 miles from Claremont. During peak traffic hours (7am-9am; 3pm-6pm), this can be a very lengthy ride (2.5 hours). You can book a shuttle here.

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Co-sponsored by: Claremont Lincoln University, the International School for Jain Studies, the Jain Center of Southern California, and the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA)

Note on Jainism:

Jainism is one of the oldest religions originating from India. At the very heart of Jainism is the ethic of non-violence, Ahimsa , which means ‘Respect for all living beings.’ Ahimsa continues to guide the daily lives of all Jains, who are egetarians, and practice ecology and conservation. Out of 14 million Jains in the world, 125,000 are settled in North America. The other two tenets of Jainsim are non-absolutism, which means that real truth has multiple facets, and non-possessiveness, which means that one should balance one’s needs and desires. JAINA is the umbrella organization of nearly 70 Jain centers and congregations in North America, that has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Organizing Committee:

Matthew Fisher, Coordinator
Dr. Manoj Jain
Dr. Nitin Shah
Manish Mehta, Ph.D.
Rajen Dhami