Professor Sean A. Valles, Lyman Briggs College and Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University
Ethics and evidence in the “population health framework” approach to racism and other social determinants of health
Since the 1990s, the “population health framework” has been shifting the theory and practice of public health, including shaping the Affordable Care Act and World Health Organization policies. The framework sees health as a process extended over the entire human life course, powerfully influenced by “social determinants of health” including food security, protection from employment/wage discrimination and safety from violence. Under this framework, promoting social equity, including anti-racism, is essential for addressing—as Link and Phelan (1995) put it—the “basic social conditions” that serve as “fundamental causes of disease.” This presentation will investigate philosophical features and consequences of the population health framework, including: how racism and other “social determinants” function as causes;; the relationship between population health’s empirical data and ethical commitments;; the significance of new non-hierarchical relationships between population health researchers, practitioners and laypeople.