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Sean A. Valles
Michigan State University
  1.  47
    Evolutionary Medicine at Twenty: Rethinking Adaptationism and Disease. [REVIEW]Sean A. Valles - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (2):241-261.
    Two decades ago, the eminent evolutionary biologist George C. Williams and his physician coauthor, Randolph Nesse, formulated the evolutionary medicine research program. Williams and Nesse explicitly made adaptationism a core component of the new program, which has served to undermine the program ever since, distorting its practitioners’ perceptions of evidentiary burdens and in extreme cases has served to warp practitioner’s understandings of the relationship between evolutionary benefits/detriments and medical ones. I show that the Williams and Nesse program more particularly embraces (...)
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  2.  12
    Bioethics and the Framing of Climate Change's Health Risks.Sean A. Valles - 2015 - Bioethics 29 (5):334-341.
    Cheryl Cox MacPherson recently argued, in an article for this journal, that ‘Climate Change is a Bioethics Problem’. This article elaborates on that position, particularly highlighting bioethicists' potential ability to help reframe the current climate change discourse to give more attention to its health risks. This reframing process is especially important because of the looming problem of climate change skepticism. Recent empirical evidence from science framing experiments indicates that the public reacts especially positively to climate change messages framed in public (...)
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  3.  6
    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.Jonathan Michael Kaplan & Sean A. Valles - forthcoming - Synthese:1-10.
    This article is an introduction to the Synthese Special Issue, Philosophy of Epidemiology. The overall goals of the issue are to revisit the state of philosophy of epidemiology and to provide a forum for new voices, approaches, and perspectives in the philosophy of epidemiology literature. The introduction begins by drawing on Geoffrey Rose’s work on how to conceptualize and design interventions for populations, rather than individuals. It then goes on to highlight some themes that emerged in the articles that make (...)
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  4.  75
    The Mystery of the Mystery of Common Genetic Diseases.Sean A. Valles - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (2):183-201.
    Common monogenic genetic diseases, ones that have unexpectedly high frequencies in certain populations, have attracted a great number of conflicting evolutionary explanations. This paper will attempt to explain the mystery of why two particularly extensively studied common genetic diseases, Tay Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis, remain evolutionary mysteries despite decades of research. I review the most commonly cited evolutionary processes used to explain common genetic diseases: reproductive compensation, random genetic drift (in the context of founder effect), and especially heterozygote advantage. (...)
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  5.  24
    Should Direct-to-Consumer Personalized Genomic Medicine Remain Unregulated?: A Rebuttal of the Defenses.Sean A. Valles - 2012 - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55 (2):250-265.
    Direct-to-consumer personalized genomic medicine has recently grown into a small industry that sells mail-order DNA sample kits and then provides disease risk assessments, typically based upon results from genome-trait association studies. The companies selling these services have been largely exempted from FDA regulation in the United States. Testing kit companies and their supporters have defended the industry's unregulated status using two arguments. First, defenders have argued that mere absence of harm is all that must be proved for mail-order tests to (...)
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  6.  5
    A Pluralistic and Socially Responsible Philosophy of Epidemiology Field Should Actively Engage with Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities.Sean A. Valles - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    Philosophy of epidemiology has recently emerged as a distinct branch of philosophy. The field will surely benefit from pluralism, reflected in the broad range of topics and perspectives in this special issue. Here, I argue that a healthy pluralistic field of philosophy of epidemiology has social responsibilities that require the field as a whole to engage actively with research on social determinants of health and health disparities. Practicing epidemiologists and the broader community of public health scientists have gradually acknowledged that (...)
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  7.  11
    Heterogeneity of Risk Within Racial Groups, a Challenge for Public Health Programs.Sean A. Valles - 2012 - Preventive Medicine 55 (5):405-408.
    Targeting high-risk populations for public health interventions is a classic tool of public health promotion programs. This practice becomes thornier when racial groups are identified as the at-risk populations. I present the particular ethical and epistemic challenges that arise when there are low-risk subpopulations within racial groups that have been identified as high-risk for a particular health concern. I focus on two examples. The black immigrant population does not have the same hypertension risk as US-born African Americans. Similarly, Finnish descendants (...)
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  8.  6
    Scientific Method in Brief by Hugh G. Gauch Jr. [REVIEW]Sean A. Valles - 2013 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 35 (3):488--489.
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  9.  19
    The Challenges of Choosing and Explaining a Phenomenon in Epidemiological Research on the “Hispanic Paradox”.Sean A. Valles - 2016 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 37 (2):129-148.
    According to public health data, the US Hispanic population is far healthier than would be expected for a population with low socioeconomic status. Ever since Kyriakos Markides and Jeannine Coreil highlighted this in a seminal 1986 article, public health researchers have sought to explain the so-called “Hispanic paradox.” Several candidate explanations have been offered over the years, but the debate goes on. This article offers a philosophical analysis that clarifies how two sets of obstacles make it particularly difficult to explain (...)
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  10.  21
    Validity and Utility in Biological Traits.Sean A. Valles - 2013 - Biological Theory 8 (1):93-102.
    “Trait” is a ubiquitous term in biology, but its precise meaning and theoretical foundations remain opaque. After distinguishing between “trait” and “character,” I argue for the value of adopting Theodosius Dobzhansky’s 1956 definition and framework for understanding “trait,” which holds that traits are just “semantic devices” that artificially impose order on continuous biological phenomena. I elaborate on this definition to distinguish between trait validity (compliance with Dobzhansky’s trait definition) and trait utility (usefulness of a trait). As a consequence of this (...)
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  11.  11
    Lionel Penrose and the Concept of Normal Variation in Human Intelligence.Sean A. Valles - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):281-289.
    Lionel Penrose (1898–1972) was an important leader during the mid-20th century decline of eugenics and the development of modern medical genetics. However, historians have paid little attention to his radical theoretical challenges to mainline eugenic concepts of mental disease. Working from a classification system developed with his colleague, E. O. Lewis, Penrose developed a statistically sophisticated and clinically grounded refutation of the popular position that low intelligence is inherently a disease state. In the early 1930s, Penrose advocated dividing “mental defect” (...)
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  12.  20
    Lionel Penrose and the Concept of Normal Variation in Human Intelligence.Sean A. Valles - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):281-289.
  13.  11
    Philosophy of Population Health: Philosophy for a New Public Health Era.Sean A. Valles - 2018 - Abingdon OX14, UK: Routledge.
    Population health has recently grown from a series of loosely connected critiques of twentieth-century public health and medicine into a theoretical framework with a corresponding field of research—population health science. Its approach is to promote the public’s health through improving everyday human life: affordable nutritious food, clean air, safe places where children can play, living wages, etc. It recognizes that addressing contemporary health challenges such as the prevalence of type 2 diabetes will take much more than good hospitals and public (...)
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