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Philosophy of Sport / John William, Devine

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Swansea University Author: John William, Devine

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Abstract

While sport has been practised since pre-historic times, it is a relatively new subject of systematic philosophical enquiry. Indeed, the philosophy of sport as an academic sub-field dates back only to the 1970s. Yet, in this short time, it has grown into a vibrant area of philosophical research that...

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Published in: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
ISSN: 1095-5054
Published: Stanford, CA Stanford University 2020
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa53435
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Abstract: While sport has been practised since pre-historic times, it is a relatively new subject of systematic philosophical enquiry. Indeed, the philosophy of sport as an academic sub-field dates back only to the 1970s. Yet, in this short time, it has grown into a vibrant area of philosophical research that promises both to deepen our understanding of sport and to inform sports practice. Recent controversies at the elite and professional level have highlighted the ethical dimensions of sport in particular. Lance Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs raised new issues in the ethics of cheating, middle-distance runner Caster Semenya has challenged prevailing rules around sex classification in sport, and Oscar Pistorius’s prosthesis has problematized the distinction between able-bodied and disabled sport. While philosophical analysis may help to achieve a deeper understanding of sport, such analysis may also illuminate problems of philosophy beyond sport, ranging from the nature of skill to the ethics of altruism.This entry proceeds in three sections. Section 1 introduces the philosophy of sport with particular emphasis on the history of systematic philosophical thinking about sport. Section 2 examines the nature and value of sport, and it considers the main normative theories of sport developed in the literature. Section 3 addresses a cluster of topics that are central to the philosophy of sport, including: sportsmanship; cheating; performance enhancement; violent and dangerous sport; sex, gender, and race; fans and spectators; disability sport; and the aesthetics of sport.