Strategic Fouls: A New Defense
Journal of the Philosophy of Sport
Among philosophers, the question about strategic fouls has been whether they are ethically justified in light of our best conception of sport. This paper proposes a different defense. I argue that many strategic fouls should be excused even if we regard them as unjustified. I first lay out a partial defense of the assumptions that playing to win cannot be subordinate to playing skillfully and that winning has value that cannot be accounted for in terms of the skill that produces it. I then argue that the logic of competitive play structures practical reason such that it is unreasonable to require even an ethical competitor always to subordinate the aim of winning to ethical standards within the game. Some ethical failures should be excused. The argument implies limits on the excusing conditions. I discuss these limits in some detail, showing that they fit patterns in the common acceptance of strategic fouls. I then address possible objections. In conclusion I argue that the logic of excuse rather than justification explains a common reaction to strategic fouls, resolving what might otherwise appear to be a contradiction in that reaction.
Flynn, Erin E., "Strategic Fouls: A New Defense" (2017). Philosophy Faculty Work. 29.