Ethics and Sports

Authored by: Mike McNamee

Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Sport

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415829809
eBook ISBN: 9780203466261
Adobe ISBN: 9781134119141


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It might be said that there are some interesting points of similarity within philosophy generally, and ethics more specifically, and the philosophy of sport and sports ethics. In 1982, the American philosopher Steven Toulmin (1982) wrote an article entitled ‘How medicine saved the life of ethics’. The success or otherwise of medical ethics led Glenn McGee (2006), another leading American scholar, to write an editorial in 2006 asking ‘Will bioethics take the life of philosophy?’. The titles of the essays are self-explanatory. There is little doubt that the development of sports ethics breathed new life into the philosophy of sport and has, for the last two decades, been the most dominant subject of published scholarship in the field. Whether its success will be seen to have eclipsed the parent subject or ‘merely’ invigorated it is something that cannot be evaluated in media res. What I take to be incontestable is that the philosophy of sport has flourished during this period, and has brought wider interest from philosophers outside sport and policy makers within it than has ever been the case hitherto and that has been due in large part to the rise of sports ethics as an academic subject. In this chapter, I chart the history of sports ethics scholarship, set out its main theoretical approaches and indicate future prospects.

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