Sean Valles: Zip Codes, Genetic Codes, and Envisioning an Equitable Culture of Health - Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology Lecture Series

Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Venue: JO 2.604
Admission: Free
Season: 2019-20


Zip Codes, Genetic Codes, and Envisioning an Equitable Culture of Health

Over the last decade, there has been a rapid growth of “population health science” and two associated catchphrases: the plea to build “a culture of health” and variations on the adage “your health depends more on your zip code than your genetic code.” Such catchphrases point to deeper philosophical questions: What sense can we make of the tangled evidence about what is causing health problems among the U.S. population? Ethically, which strategies deserve to be prioritized in addressing those problems? This presentation will explore those questions, in part, by:

  • Drawing pragmatic distinctions between different types of causes.
  • Unpacking what it means when critics say a cultural problem is at the root of why U.S. population health is lagging behind other wealthy countries (by most measures).
  • Scrutinizing the conceptual and practical framework that has been offered by population health science as a means of equitably and effectively improving U.S. health.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Sean Valles is an associate professor with an appointment at the Michigan State University Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Philosophy. His research explores the ethical and evidentiary questions laying beneath scientific research on the health of human populations: What does it mean to be healthy? How can we make sense of the ways that racism and other social injustices affect health? How can we more justly distribute health benefits and harms in diverse societies? He is author of the 2018 book, Philosophy of Population Health: Philosophy for a New Public Health Era. He also is the director of the MSU Science and Society @ State Program, which supports interdisciplinary faculty collaboration in humanities, arts, and sciences.


For more information contact:
Magdalena Grohman
[email protected]
972-883-4940


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