Special Issue "Philosophical Issues in Sport Science"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2019).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Emily Ryall
Website
Guest Editor
School of Sport and Exercise, University of Gloucestershire, UK
Interests: philosophy, sport, technology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The role and value of science within sport increases with ever greater professionalization and commercialization. Scientific and technological innovations are devised to increase performance, ensure greater accuracy of measurement and officiating, reduce risks of harm, enhance spectatorship and raise revenues. However, such innovations inevitably come up against epistemological and metaphysical problems related to the nature of sport and physical competition. This special issue aims to identify key and contemporary philosophical issues in relation to the science of sport. To what extent is it possible to accurately quantify or improve performance? Do technological innovations in officiating merely transfer authority from one entity to another? Does a technological solution to one issue in sport inevitably lead to a ‘revenge effect’ whereby another problem is created as a consequence? Is the research that drives changes to sport, based upon reasonable scientific assumptions? These are the types of questions that this special issues seeks to address.

This special issue will bring together scholars working on philosophical problems in sport to provide a collection of articles focused on philosophical problems in sport science. This issue will complement Mike McNamee’s (2005) edited collection ‘Philosophy and the Sciences of Exercise, Health and Sport’ in addition to Harry Collins, Robert Evans and Christopher Higgens (2016) recently published work, ‘Bad Call’, which focused on the epistemological and ontological problem of officiating in sport. Whilst there are notable published articles on philosophical problems in sport science, there has been no single edited collection of work in this area. As such, this special issue aims to contribute to this neglected area in the philosophy of sport.

Dr. Emily Ryall
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sport
  • science
  • philosophy
  • epistemology
  • metaphysics
  • causation
  • quantification
  • technology

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to Philosophical Issues in Sport Science
Philosophies 2019, 4(4), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4040057 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
The role and value of science within sport increases with ever greater professionalization and commercialization. Scientific and technological innovations are devised to increase performance, ensure greater accuracy of measurement and officiating, reduce risks of harm, enhance spectatorship and raise revenues. However, such innovations [...] Read more.
The role and value of science within sport increases with ever greater professionalization and commercialization. Scientific and technological innovations are devised to increase performance, ensure greater accuracy of measurement and officiating, reduce risks of harm, enhance spectatorship and raise revenues. However, such innovations inevitably come up against epistemological and metaphysical problems related to the nature of sport and physical competition. This special issue identifies and explores key and contemporary philosophical issues in relation to the science of sport and exercise. The opening four chapters focus on the nature of scientific evidence, and causation in sport; the middle four chapters on the influence of science and technology and its relationship to sport officiating; whilst the final three chapters consider the way in which science affects the construction of sport. It brings together scholars working on philosophical problems in sport to examine issues related to the values and assumptions behind sport and exercise science, key problems that result, and provide recommendations for improving its practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available

Research

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Open AccessArticle
The Hazards of a Biomedical Exercise Paradigm: Exploring the Praxis of Exercise Professionals
Philosophies 2019, 4(3), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4030054 - 12 Sep 2019
Abstract
There is a belief that exercise has a major role to play in the current health and wellbeing agendas. Consequently, health interventions are implemented based upon the recommendations of the ACSM and similar exercise research organizations. However this development has been challenged through [...] Read more.
There is a belief that exercise has a major role to play in the current health and wellbeing agendas. Consequently, health interventions are implemented based upon the recommendations of the ACSM and similar exercise research organizations. However this development has been challenged through both social and political perspectives. Specifically accusations of medicalization have been raised against the increasing relationship between the exercise and medical domains. The purpose of this article is to present a similar critique of the growing emergence of a medical paradigm within the exercise domain. In this instance the focus will examine the relationship between exercise professional, exercise science and the proposed medical paradigm. Through the use of philosophical essay and systematic review of literature, it is argued that a continuing shift by exercise science to mirror the medical paradigm will cause a number of issues and potential hazards in the working practices of its professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
The Necessity of Philosophy in the Exercise Sciences
Philosophies 2019, 4(3), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4030045 - 07 Aug 2019
Abstract
The pervasive and often uncritical acceptance of materialistic philosophical commitments within exercise science is deeply problematic. This commitment to materialism is wrong for several reasons. Among the most important are that it ushers in fallacious metaphysical assumptions regarding the nature of causation and [...] Read more.
The pervasive and often uncritical acceptance of materialistic philosophical commitments within exercise science is deeply problematic. This commitment to materialism is wrong for several reasons. Among the most important are that it ushers in fallacious metaphysical assumptions regarding the nature of causation and the nature of human beings. These mistaken philosophical commitments are key because the belief that only matter is real severely impedes the exercise scientist’s ability to accurately understand or deal with human beings, whether as subjects of study or as data points to be interpreted. One example of materialist metaphysics is the assertion that all causation is physical- one lever moving another lever, one atom striking another atom, one brain state leading to another (Kretchmer, 2005). In such a world, human life is reduced to action and reaction, stimulus and response and as a result, the human being disappears. As such, a deterministic philosophy is detrimental to kinesiologists’ attempts to interpret and understand human behavior, for a materialistic philosophy, must ignore or explain away human motivation, human freedom and ultimately culture itself. In showing how mistaken these philosophic commitments are, I will focus on the sub-discipline of sport psychology for most examples, as that is the field of exercise science of which I am paradigmatically most familiar. It is also the field, when rightly understood that straddles the “two cultures” in kinesiology (i.e., the sciences and the humanities). In referencing the dangers of the materialistic conception of human beings for sport psychology, I will propose, that the materialist’s account of the natural world, causation and human beings stems from the unjustified and unnecessary rejection by the founders of modern science of the Aristotelian picture of the world (Feser, 2012). One reason that this mechanistic point of view, concerning human reality has gained ground in kinesiology is as a result of a previous philosophic commitment to quantification. As philosopher Doug Anderson (2002) has pointed out, many kinesiologists believe that shifting the discipline in the direction of mathematics and science would result in enhanced academic credibility. Moreover, given the dominance of the scientific narrative in our culture it makes it very difficult for us not to conform to it. That is, as Twietmeyer (2015) argued, kinesiologists do not just reject non-materialistic philosophic conceptions of the field, we are oblivious to their possibility. Therefore, I will propose two things; first, Aristotelian philosophy is a viable alternative to materialistic accounts of nature and causation and second, that Aristotle’s holistic anthropology is an important way to wake kinesiologists from their self-imposed philosophic slumber. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Testosterone: ‘the Best Discriminating Factor’
Philosophies 2019, 4(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4030036 - 11 Jul 2019
Abstract
In 2011 the IAAF introduced the Hyperandrogenism Regulations in an attempt to deal with a difficult problem; that of ensuring ‘fair’ competition in female athletics as a result of athletes with differences in sexual development competing against women without such conditions. In 2015, [...] Read more.
In 2011 the IAAF introduced the Hyperandrogenism Regulations in an attempt to deal with a difficult problem; that of ensuring ‘fair’ competition in female athletics as a result of athletes with differences in sexual development competing against women without such conditions. In 2015, following a challenge to those regulations by Indian athlete, Dutee Chand, The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) considered the merit of the regulations and determined that there was insufficient scientific evidence to justify their imposition. The regulations were suspended by the CAS, until more convincing evidence could be provided (CAS 2014/A/3759 Chand v AFI and IAAF). The IAAF duly commissioned further research (Bermon and Garnier, 2017) and introduced amended regulations (the Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (the DSD Regulations)). Although not universal, the IAAF has faced significant criticism from several angles about its approach to the problem. In particular, there has been criticism of the value of the scientific research on which the regulations are based (Franklin et al., 2018; Karkazis et al., 2012; Koh et al., 2018; Sőnksen et al., 2018; Tucker, 2017, Pielke, Tucker & Boye 2019) and also from those in the ethical and human rights fields seeking to ensure that the rights of individual athletes are protected (Adair, 2011; Buzuvis, 2016; Koh et al., 2018). In light of such criticism, this paper considers the IAAF’s approach in dealing with the perceived problem and considers its conduct against an objective framework of ‘good sporting governance’ (Geeraert, 2013; Henry and Lee 2004). It is this paper’s contention that the IAAF’s approach to rule creation in this area demonstrates less than ideal governance practice and, in doing so, notes the role of historical, cultural and institutional barriers as well as an over-reliance on insufficiently conclusive scientific evidence to provide a seemingly objective solution to a fundamentally more complex problem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Unnatural Technology in a “Natural” Practice? Human Nature and Performance-Enhancing Technology in Sport
Philosophies 2019, 4(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4030035 - 26 Jun 2019
Abstract
(1) Background: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) utilizes three criteria to include a technology in the List of Banned Substances and Methods—performance enhancement, health, and the spirit of sport. The latter is arguably the most fundamental one, as WADA justifies the anti-doping mission [...] Read more.
(1) Background: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) utilizes three criteria to include a technology in the List of Banned Substances and Methods—performance enhancement, health, and the spirit of sport. The latter is arguably the most fundamental one, as WADA justifies the anti-doping mission by appealing to it. (2) Method: Given the interrelationship among the notions of “human nature,” “natural talent,” and “sport,” I investigate what view of human nature underpins the “spirit of sport” criterion. To do so, I focus on both WADA’s official documents and scholarly formulations of the spirit of sport (that align with that of WADA). (3) Results: I show that the value attributed to excellence and effort in WADA’s formulation of the “spirit of sport” criterion has its roots in the notion of human nature of the work ethic that resulted from the secularization of the Protestant ethic. (4) Conclusion: Drawing on my analysis of the “spirit of sport” criterion, I pose critical questions concerning the justification of WADA’s anti-doping campaign and a tentative solution to move forward in the debate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
What Might a Theory of Causation Do for Sport?
Philosophies 2019, 4(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4020034 - 18 Jun 2019
Abstract
The purpose of this research is to articulate how a theory of causation might be serviceable to a theory of sport. This article makes conceptual links between Bernard Suits’ theory of game-playing, causation, and theories of causation. It justifies theories of causation while [...] Read more.
The purpose of this research is to articulate how a theory of causation might be serviceable to a theory of sport. This article makes conceptual links between Bernard Suits’ theory of game-playing, causation, and theories of causation. It justifies theories of causation while drawing on connections between sport and counterfactuals. It articulates the value of theories of causation while emphasizing possible limitations. A singularist theory of causation is found to be more broadly serviceable with particular regard to its analysis of sports. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Why You Don’t Have to Choose between Accuracy and Human Officiating (But You Might Want to Anyway)
Philosophies 2019, 4(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4020033 - 14 Jun 2019
Abstract
Debates about the role of technology in sports officiating assume that technology would, ceteris paribus, improve accuracy over unassisted human officiating. While this is largely true, it also presents a false dilemma: that we can have accurately officiated sports or human officials, [...] Read more.
Debates about the role of technology in sports officiating assume that technology would, ceteris paribus, improve accuracy over unassisted human officiating. While this is largely true, it also presents a false dilemma: that we can have accurately officiated sports or human officials, but not both. What this alleged dilemma ignores is that the criteria by which we measure accuracy are also up for revision. We could have sports that are so defined as to be easily (or at least more accurately) judged by human officials. A case from the recent history of science provides an instructive example. I argue that if we insist on human officials, we can still aim for maximal accuracy, though there will be tradeoffs. With compelling reasons to want accuracy in officiating, however, these tradeoffs effectively serve as a reductio against the use of human officials unaided by technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Chips and Showmanship: Running and Technology
Philosophies 2019, 4(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4020030 - 05 Jun 2019
Abstract
A brief review and classification of technology in general begins the paper, followed by an application of the classification to two specific marathon case studies: the 2018 Boston marathon and the 2017 Nike Breaking2 Project marathon. Then concepts from an array of sport [...] Read more.
A brief review and classification of technology in general begins the paper, followed by an application of the classification to two specific marathon case studies: the 2018 Boston marathon and the 2017 Nike Breaking2 Project marathon. Then concepts from an array of sport philosophers are discussed to suggest an explanation for why each of the case studies strikes us as problematic. The conclusion provides a reasonable explanation for our misgivings, as well as an indication of how we might evaluate sporting endeavors in the face of increasing technological innovation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Sports Tournaments and Social Choice Theory
Philosophies 2019, 4(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4020028 - 30 May 2019
Abstract
Sports tournaments provide a procedure for producing a champion and ranking the contestants based on game results. As such, tournaments mirror aggregation methods in social choice theory, where diverse individual preferences are put together to form an overall social preference. This connection allows [...] Read more.
Sports tournaments provide a procedure for producing a champion and ranking the contestants based on game results. As such, tournaments mirror aggregation methods in social choice theory, where diverse individual preferences are put together to form an overall social preference. This connection allows us a novel way of conceptualizing sports tournaments, their results, and significance. I argue that there are genuine intransitive dominance relationships in sports, that social choice theory provides a framework for understanding rankings in such situations and that these considerations provide a new reason to endorse championship pluralism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Something’s Got to Give: Reconsidering the Justification for a Gender Divide in Sport
Philosophies 2019, 4(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4020023 - 15 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The question of whether transgender athletes should be permitted to compete in accordance with their gender identity is an evolving debate. Most competitive sports have male and female categories. One of the primary challenges with this categorization system, however, is that some transgender [...] Read more.
The question of whether transgender athletes should be permitted to compete in accordance with their gender identity is an evolving debate. Most competitive sports have male and female categories. One of the primary challenges with this categorization system, however, is that some transgender athletes (and especially transgender women) may be prevented from competing in accordance with their gender identity. The reason for this restriction is because of the idea that transgender women have an unfair advantage over their cisgender counterparts; this is seen as a problem since sports are typically guided a principle called ‘the skill thesis’, which suggests that sports are supposed to determine who is most skillful by maintaining a fair starting point. In this paper, I argue that if the skill thesis ought to be maintained and there continues to exist no conclusive evidence in support of unfair advantages possessed by trans women, then we may want to re-consider the gender binary in sport. Rather than having male/female categories, it may make more sense to categorize athletes based other sport-specific factors (e.g., height, weight, etc.). This may help to maintain the skill thesis while at the same time removing potentially unfair and discriminatory barriers against transgender athletes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Applying Philosophy to Refereeing and Umpiring Technology
Philosophies 2019, 4(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4020021 - 09 May 2019
Abstract
This paper draws an earlier book (with Evans and Higgins) entitled Bad Call: Technology’s Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It (hereafter Bad Call) and its various precursor papers. These show why it is that current match officiating aids [...] Read more.
This paper draws an earlier book (with Evans and Higgins) entitled Bad Call: Technology’s Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It (hereafter Bad Call) and its various precursor papers. These show why it is that current match officiating aids are unable to provide the kind of accuracy that is often claimed for them and that sports aficianados have been led to expect from them. Accuracy is improving all the time but the notion of perfect accuracy is a myth because, for example, lines drawn on sports fields and the edges of balls are not perfectly defined. The devices meant to report the exact position of a ball—for instance ‘in’ or ‘out’ at tennis—work with the mathematically perfect world of virtual reality, not the actuality of an imperfect physical world. Even if ball-trackers could overcome the sort of inaccuracies related to fast ball speeds and slow camera frame-rates the goal of complete accuracy will always be beyond reach. Here it is suggested that the purpose of technological aids to umpires and referees be looked at in a new way that takes the viewers into account. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Casuistic Reasoning, Standards of Evidence, and Expertise on Elite Athletes’ Nutrition
Philosophies 2019, 4(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4020019 - 25 Apr 2019
Abstract
This paper assesses the epistemic challenges of giving nutrition advice to elite athletes in light of recent philosophical discussion concerning evidence-based practice. Our trust in experts largely depends on the assumption that their advice is based on reliable evidence. In many fields, the [...] Read more.
This paper assesses the epistemic challenges of giving nutrition advice to elite athletes in light of recent philosophical discussion concerning evidence-based practice. Our trust in experts largely depends on the assumption that their advice is based on reliable evidence. In many fields, the evaluation of the reliability of evidence is made on the basis of standards that originate from evidence-based medicine. I show that at the Olympic or professional level, implementing nutritional plans in real-world competitions requires contextualization of knowledge in a way that contravenes the tenets of evidence-based thinking. Nutrition experts need to be able to combine and apply evidence from multiple sources, including the previous successes and failures of particular athletes. I argue that in this sense, the practice of elite sport nutrition embodies casuistic reasoning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophical Issues in Sport Science) Printed Edition available
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