Rules in games and sports: why a solution to the problem of penalties leads to the rejection of formalism as a useful theory about the nature of sport

Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 47 (1):49-62 (2020)
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Abstract

ABSTRACTBernard Suits and other formalists endorse both the logical incompatibility thesis and the view that rule-breakings resulting in penalties can be a legitimate part of a game. This is what Fred D’Agostino calls ‘the problem of penalties’. In this paper, I reject both Suits’ and D’Agostino’s responses to the problem and argue instead that the solution is to abandon Suits’ view that the constitutive rules of all games are alike. Whereas the logical incompatibility thesis applies to games in which players’ actions are perfectly controlled, it does not apply to sports. This insight not only justifies the rejection of formalism as a theory about the nature of sport but it also helps explain the greater normative complexity of sports, which in turn leads to the idea that in sports ‘cheating’ should be interpreted as a genus.

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Sinclair MacRae
Mount Royal University

Citations of this work

The Conflicting Excellences of Oppositional Sports.Sinclair A. MacRae - 2020 - Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 15 (1):74-87.

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References found in this work

The Elements of Sport.Bernard Suits - 2007 - In William J. Morgan (ed.), Ethics in Sport. Human Kinetics. pp. 9--19.
Right Actions in Sport: Ethics for Contestants.Warren P. Fraleigh - 1984 - Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
Internalism and Internal Values in Sport.Robert L. Simon - 2000 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 27 (1):1-16.
The Ethos of Games.Fred D'Agostino - 1981 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 8 (1):7-18.
What is a Game?Bernard Suits - 1967 - Philosophy of Science 34 (2):148-156.

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