Sean A. Valles

Sean A. Valles photo


Director and Associate Professor

Center for Bioethics and Social Justice

  • PhD 2010 Indiana University Bloomington
  • MA 2008 Indiana University Bloomington
  • BA 2005 St. John’s College


Sean A. Valles is a philosopher of health specializing in the ethical and evidentiary complexities of how social contexts—everything from one’s local food options to the presence or absence of exposure to violent policing practices—combine to create patterns of inequitable health disparities. His work includes studying the challenges of responsibly using race and ethnicity concepts in monitoring health disparities, scrutinizing the rhetoric of the COVID-19 pandemic as an ‘unprecedented’ problem that could not be prepared for, and examining how biomedicine meshes with public health and population health. He is author of the 2018 book, Philosophy of Population Health: Philosophy for a New Public Health Era. He is also co-editor (with Quill R. Kukla) of the Oxford University Press book series "Bioethics for Social Justice.”

Selected Publications

Valles SA. (Forthcoming). The Coupled Ethical-Epistemic Model as a Resource for Feminist Philosophy of Science, and a Case Study Applying the Model to the Demography of “Hispanic” Race and Ethnicity. In H. Grasswick & N. McHugh (Eds.), Making the Case: Feminist and Critical Race Theorists Investigate Case Studies. Albany: SUNY Press.

Valles SA. (2020). "The predictable inequities of COVID-19 in the US: Fundamental causes and broken institutions." Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. 369(8251): m205.

Valles SA. (2020). Philosophy of Biomedicine. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.

Valles SA. (2019). A pluralistic and socially responsible philosophy of epidemiology field should actively engage with social determinants of health and health disparities. Synthese. Online First. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-019-02161-5.

Valles SA. (2017). Some comments about being a philosopher of color and the reasons I didn’t write a (real) paper for this (seemingly) ideal venue for my work. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal (online supplement).

Valles SA, Luckie DB, Montgomery GM, Simmons EH, Sweeder RD, Zeleke A. (2016). Updating the Two Cultures: How structures can promote interdisciplinary cultures. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 48(6), 28-35.

Valles SA. (2016). Race in Medicine. In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine, edited by M. Solomon, J. R. Simon and H. Kincaid. New York: Routledge, 419-431.

Valles SA. (2016). The Challenges of Choosing and Explaining a Phenomenon in Epidemiological Research on the “Hispanic Paradox”. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 37(2), 129-148.

Valles SA, Bhopal RS, Aspinall PJ. (2015). Census Categories for Mixed Race and Mixed Ethnicity: Impacts on Data Collection and Analysis in the US, UK and NZ. Public Health, 129(3), 266-270.

Katikireddi SV and Valles SA. (2015). Coupled Ethical–Epistemic Analysis of Public Health Research and Practice: Categorizing Variables to Improve Population Health and Equity, American Journal of Public Health, 105(1), e36-e42 [Open Access]

Valles SA. (2015). Bioethics and the Framing of Climate Change’s Health Risks. Bioethics, 29(5), 334-341.

Valles SA. (2012). Heterogeneity of Risk within Racial Groups, a Challenge for Public Health Programs. Preventive Medicine, 55(5), 405-408.

Valles SA. (2012). Should Direct to Consumer Personalized Genomic Medicine Remain Unregulated? A Rebuttal of the Defenses. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 55(2), 250-265.

Selected Achievements and Awards

  • Book Series Co-Editor, “Bioethics for Social Justice,” Oxford University Press, 2020-present
  • Elected Governing Board Member, Philosophy of Science Association, 2019-2022
  • Member (2019-present), Organizing Committee of the Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable
  • Committee Member, American Philosophical Association Committee on Public Philosophy, July 2018-June 2021
  • MSU Teacher Scholar Award, 2016
  • Lyman Briggs College Faculty Award, 2014