Spring 2015

Philosophy of Sport

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-231

Moodle site: Course


Joseph G. Moore (Section 01)


Most people participate in some form of sporting activity, and many of us also pay close attention to the sporting accomplishments of others. Sport plays a significant role in education, in culture, and even in politics. It’s also a multi-billion dollar international business. Yet sport has received scant attention within philosophy. And this is odd, since it raises many interesting philosophical questions.

What makes something a “sport”? Does cheer-leading or beer-pong count? Competition is central to sport, but is competition clearly a good thing? And what about the connection between sport and violence? Why do so many of us value watching other people engage in sporting activity? Is sport a form of art or does it have its own aesthetics? Why do we care if the Red Sox win? Does sport have any intrinsic connections with issues of race, class, nationality or gender? What’s wrong with doping and the use of other enhancements in sport? Is it right to regard star athletes as role models? What is the proper role of athletics in society and in education—particularly higher-education? Should major college athletes be paid? And do we strike the right balance at Amherst College? Finally, what is the proper place of sport in one’s own life?

Over the course of the semester, we will explore these and other questions about the nature of sport.

Limited to 25 students.  Spring semester. Professor Moore

If Overenrolled: Priority given to philosophy majors and Amherst College students. We will also seek to enroll a class including students with diverse backgrounds.


Writing attentive


2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015