moral laboratory

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A term used by Graham McFee referring to sport's concern with fairness (Sport, Rules and Values: Philosophical Investigations into the Nature of Sport, 2004). Rules, McFee notes, are sometimes changed to encourage if not ensure fair play, or what in a more philosophical terminology he calls ‘just performance’. Sport as a moral laboratory is about learning to play within the rules, and this is based upon learned principles. Three intrinsic characteristics of sport give it its ‘possibilities as a moral laboratory’: it is rule-governed; human interactions in sport can generate and express fairness and harm; and the risk to human participants is (usually) not too excessive. Provocatively, McFee develops his arguments to propose that some sports—his examples are boxing, synchronized swimming, and basketball—have little moral worth or potential to contribute to moral education.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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