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Click on this link to watch the videos from the “Perspectives on Death and Dying” Symposium



Hospitals and Hospices ignore the needs of more than 20% of their patients.

Tampa, FL - Oct. 24, 2014 - Even though the Pew Research Center has found that one-fifth (20%) of the USA public and a third (33 1/3%) of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated, most hospitals and hospices insist on having religious Chaplains available while ignoring the needs of non-theistic, secular humanist, atheist and agnostic patients.

While a September 2014 Pew Research report indicated that 72% of the American public has concluded that religion is losing influence in American life, the CEO’s of America’s hospitals and hospices continue to ignore this reality.

According to Joe Beck, Florida’s first Humanist Chaplain and Founder of Florida’s Humanists of the Treasure Coast, "hospital and hospice literature mention the existence of non-denominational theistic chaplains but fail to mention the existence of supportive services from an openly secular humanist perspective.”  Mr. Beck believes that medical facilities providing a clearly identified secular support person helps to validate the secular patient's life stance and brings comfort to those patients.

The Institute for Science and Human Values (ISHV) has been approached by nursing home directors explaining that their secular patients are not being provided for, by either the facility or the patients’ families. They wonder how they can help. “I have comforted those who are frightened to identify as non-theist for fear that proper medical care will be denied them when they find themselves requiring hospital and hospice stays,” states Toni Van Pelt, ISHV President. “We know many secular humanists’ wishes are denied by their families concerning burial and funeral services.” she continues.

To date there has been little discussion and less research as to how widespread these problems are and what can be done to provide support for non-theists in this, their greatest time of need. To this end ISHV is sponsoring “Dying Without Deity” Perspectives on Dying and Death Symposium, at Columbia University, April 10 and 11th, 2015. Visit for further details and to register.





















"The Human Prospect and the Fate of Our Planetary Civilization: Science, Humanism, Ethics, and the Task Before Us."

An Institute for Science and Human Values (ISHV) Symposium Dedicated to the Memory of

Paul Kurtz.

April 12-13, 2013

Columbia University, New York City


Philip Kitcher • Rebecca Goldstein • Ronald Aronson • Susan Jacoby • James Giordano • Lindsay Beyerstein • John Shook • Toni Van Pelt • Terry O'Neill • Dr. Ron Miller • Bob Bindschadler • Stuart Jordan • Nel Noddings • Larry Hickman • Nathan Bupp • Jacques Berlinerblau • Barry Kosmin • Anthony Pinn •



Brain Science Experts Examine Issues at the Intersection of Neuroscience and Morality at ISHV Symposium

On March 16, 2012 a special one-day symposium entitled "Neuroscience and Neuroethics: Considering Nature, Nurture and Norms" was convened at the Potomac Institute in Arlington, Virginia. The event was sponsored jointly by Institute for Science and Human Values (ISHV) and the Center for Neurotechnology Studies at the Potomac Institute. Symposium attendees were treated to cutting edge presentations of a uniformly high quality on topics ranging from free will, to natural moral intuition, to the ethical dilemmas raised by the implementations of certain neuro-scientific technologies. Science writer Ronald Bailey wrote a detailed report about the symposium called “How Does the Brain Secrete Morality?” on the Reason Magazine Website.

“We are proud to have played a significant role in organizing this important event,” said Paul Kurtz, Chairman and Founder of ISHV. “We believe that the meeting made a valuable contribution to the cultural conversation surrounding neuroscience and human well-being. Our plan is to disseminate the fruits of this gathering to all educated laypersons with an interest in the topic.” With this goal in mind, the meeting was broadcast live the day of the event via Internet streaming and selected material from the symposium will be published in The Human Prospect, the journal of ISHV.

The complete presentation (over six hours long) is now available on video. After some brief introductory comments from James Giordano and ISHV leader Stuart Jordan the event begins in earnest.

Featured speakers include:

Gregory Berns PhD

Emory University

"Neural Mechanisms of Values"


William Casebeer PhD

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

"Will, Narrative and Personal Responsibility"


Patricia Churchland PhD

University of California San Diego

"What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality"


James Giordano PhD

Center for Neurotechnology Studies, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

University of New Mexico

University of Oxford

Symposium Chair

"Neuroethics as Meta-ethics: Avoiding Icarus' Folly"


Eric Racine PhD

Neuroethics Research Unit , Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal


"Neuroimaging and the Values of Neuroscience"


John Shook PhD

University of Buffalo

"The New Ethics of Neuroethics"

and a special introduction by Paul Kurtz, PhD

Institute for Science and Human Values


Topics to be addressed include:
  • Brain development and the burdens of modernity
  • The nature of mind, will and action
  • Neural substrates and mechanisms of values
  • Gender, neuroscience and a neuroethics of standpoint
  • Neuroscience of decision-making
  • Neuroimaging and the values of neuroscience
  • The social brain, and brain-science as a social force
  • The new ethics of neuroethics
  • Neuroscience and neurotechnology as demiurge, and the meta-ethical nature of neuroethics



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Perspectives on Death and Dyiny


"Dying Without Diety"

"The Human Prospect and the Fate of our Planetary Civilization: Science, Humanism, Ethics, and the Task Before Us"

Neuroscience and Neuroethics:

Considering Nature, Nuture and Norms

Raising Ethical, Happy Children in our Society









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