A Conventionalist TheoryWilliam J. Morgan
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.
“ Morgan is a top scholar, and he presents a fully novel and provocative interpretation of sport ethics. His cross-disciplinary approach of using both history and philosophy to provide ethical guidance is unique. The employment of essentially deep historical tradition as a warrant for defensible moral positions is bold.”— R. Scott Kretchmar, Professor Emeritus of Exercise and Sport Science in the Department of Kinesiology at Penn State University
“ A full study of the moral status of sport is necessary and long overdue. Morgan looks seriously at the relative merits of the basic positions, ultimately defending one of them—conventionalism. He displays a complete mastery of the literature, an attention to detail, and a balanced approach to the subject. This work is indispensable in our field: there is no one in the history of the philosophy of sport who has presented such a thorough and challenging critique of moral realism in sport. Sport and Moral Conflict showed me how much richer and more difficult the argument truly is.”—Paul Gaffney, Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University and Editor of the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport
"Sport and Moral Conflict , is a significant book: it is a must for any philosopher of sport to have on his or her shelf.... (I)t is intellectually engrossing (with) trenchant analysis and thoughtful insight.... (Morgan) gets to fundamental and important philosophical issues about the contested visions of what sport is and ought to be about.... Like any good work in philosophy, it deepens your understanding of the subject while also giving you many more questions to think about."