Sean A. Valles

Sean A. Valles


Director and 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

Kursav, M. N., Hos, R., Sweeder, R., & Valles, S. A. (2022). Mind the gap: Understanding the disconnect between student services offered and used. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 54(3), 40-47.

Valles, S. A. (2021). Why Race and Ethnicity Are Not Like Other Risk Factors: Applying Structural Competency and Epistemic Humility in the Covid-19 Pandemic. Philosophy of Medicine, 2(1), 1-8.

Blacksher, E., & Valles, S. A. (2021). White privilege, white poverty: Reckoning with class and race in America. The Hastings Center Report, 51(S1), S51-S57.

Valles, S. A. (2021). 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, S. A. (2020). The predictable inequities of COVID-19 in the US: Fundamental causes and broken institutions. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 369(8251), m205. Retrieved from

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

Kaplan, J. M. and Valles, S. A. (2019) Reflecting on What Philosophy of Epidemiology Is and Does, as the Field Comes into its Own: Introduction to the Special Issue on Philosophy of Epidemiology. Synthese. Online First.

Valles, S. A. (2019). A pluralistic and socially responsible philosophy of epidemiology field should actively engage with social determinants of health and health disparities. Synthese.

Valles, S. A., Piso, Z., O’Rourke, M. (2019). Coupled Ethical-Epistemic Analysis as a Tool for Environmental Science. Ethics, Policy & Environment. 22 (3) 267-286.

Valles, S. A. (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.

Hall, T. E., Engebretson, J., O’Rourke, M., Piso, Z., Whyte, K., & Valles, S (2016) The Need for Social Ethics in Interdisciplinary Environmental Science Graduate Programs: Results from a Nation-Wide Survey in the United States. Science and Engineering Ethics, 23 (2), 565-588.

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

Katikireddi, S. V. and Valles, S. A. (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.

Valles, S. A., Bhopal, R. S., Aspinall, P. J. (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.

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

Selected Achievements and Awards

  • Program Co-Chair, 2022 Meeting of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science
  • 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