Sport and Moral Conflict

A Conventionalist Theory

William J. Morgan
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1540-0
Publication: Apr 20

HC: $99.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1539-4
Publication: Apr 20

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1541-7
Publication: Apr 20

240 pages
6 x 9

How we make our way morally and otherwise when we cannot see eye to eye on the point and purpose of sport

Read Chapter 1 (pdf.)


What is the purpose of sport, and how are ethical conceptions of sport shaped by the answers to this question? In Sport and Moral Conflict, William Morgan investigates, examining sport as a moral crucible that puts athletes in competitive, emotionally charged situations where fairness and equality are contested alongside accomplishment.

Morgan looks at the modern Olympics—from 1906 Athens to 1924 Paris, when the Games reached international prestige—in order to highlight the debate about athletic excellence and the amateur-professional divide. Whereas the Americans emphasized winning, the Europeans valued a love of the game. Morgan argues that the existing moral theories of sport—formalism and broad internalism (aka interpretivism), which rely on rules and general principles—fall short when confronted with such a dispute as the transition from amateur to professional sport. As such, he develops a theory of conventionalism, in which the norms at work in athletic communities determine how players should ethically acquit themselves. Presenting his case for an ethical theory of sport, Morgan provides insights regarding the moral controversies and crises that persist today.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction: Sport as a Kind of Moral Laboratory
1. The Fight for the Moral Soul of Modern Sport: Dueling Amateur and Professional Conceptions of Sport in the Early Modern Olympic Games, 1896–1924
2. Formalism and Sport
3. Broad Internalism, Moral Realism, and Sport: The Metaphysical Version
4. Broad Internalism, Moral Realism, and Sport: The Discourse Version
5. What a Conventionalist Ethical Theory of Sport Does Not Look Like: The Case against Coordinating, Deep, and Constitutive (Surface) Conventions
6. A Conventionalist Ethical Theory of Sport
Epilogue: Sport, Moral Progress, and Moral Entrepreneurs


About the Author(s)

William J. Morgan is Professor Emeritus, Division of Occupational Science and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California. He is author of multiple books, most recently of Why Sports Morally Matter, co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Sport, and editor of Ethics in Sport, third edition.