Mercedes Valmisa Oviedo

Assistant Professor




Campus Box 0404


Weidensall Hall
Room 315
300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400



PhD Princeton University, 2017
MA National Taiwan University, 2011
MA Madrid Autonomous University, 2008
BA University of Sevilla, 2005

Academic Focus

Chinese Philosophy, Philosophy of Action, Social Philosophy, Metaphysics

Mercedes Valmisa joined the Gettysburg Philosophy faculty in 2018 after completing her Ph.D. at Princeton University (2017) and her M.A. at National Taiwan University (2011). During the 2018-2019 academic year, she held the Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellowship, a program to support faculty who enhance curricular diversity.

Combining scholarship in Chinese and Asian philosophy, Chinese studies, and the Anglo-European tradition, Mercedes works at the intersection of metaphysics, social philosophy, and philosophy of action, pursuing questions of agency, autonomy, uncertainty, and freedom within a relational ontology.

Mercedes’ first monograph, Adapting. A Chinese Philosophy of Action (OUP 2021), reconstructs an extraordinary strategy for effective relational action devised by Classical Chinese philosophers to account for the interdependent and embedded character of human agency—what the author has denominated “adapting” or “adaptive agency” (yin 因). This Aeon essay presents some of the main insights of Adapting.

Her new book project, tentatively titled All Entities Have Consequences, explores agency as a collective process distributed across an heterogeneous network of actors, human and nonhuman. It borrows insights and inspiration from Chinese philosophies as well as by contemporary Anglo-European philosophers who think about agency in a relational manner.

Her seminars are strongly based on discussion of primary sources, and designed to create critical awareness of the existing diversity in philosophical traditions. She invites her students to problematize and challenge the mainstream Anglo-European approach to philosophy through the perspective of alternative philosophical practices such as those of Asia. 

Mercedes is a native speaker of Spanish, and fluent in English, French, and Mandarin. She can also read Classical Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese. She enjoys collaborating with students on multilingual research, as well as engaging in interdisciplinary and pluralistic explorations. 

Mercedes currently serves on the board of the Association of Chinese Philosophers in America (ACPA), the European Association for Chinese Philosophy (EACP), and the International Society for Comparative Studies of Chinese and Western Philosophy (ISCWP).

Her publications and teaching materials are available here and here.


  • Book Adapting: A Chinese Philosophy of Action Oxford University Press

  • Article The Reification of Fate in Early China. Early China 42 (2019): 147-199.

  • Article The Happy Slave isn’t Free: Relational Autonomy and Freedom in the Zhuangzi Philosophy Compass 2019;e12569.

  • Article The ‘Sinological Challenge’ to Chinese Philosophy: A Response from a Post-Disciplinary Perspective Chinese Philosophy and Culture vol. 16 (2019): 20-50.

  • Article What is a Situation? Livia Kohn ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Three Pines Press, forthcoming 2021), pp. 25-46.

  • Article Wang Bi and the Hermeneutics of Actualization Albert Galvany (Honolulu: Hawai’i University Press, forthcoming 2022).

  • Article Should we Use Unprovenienced Materials in our Research? Cambridge Elements, Erica Fox Brindley ed., (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022).

  • Article Beyond Our Control? Two Responses to Uncertainty and Fate in Early China New Visions of the Zhuangzi, ed. Livia Kohn (Cambridge, Mass.: Three Pines Press), 1-22.