ASU Applied Philosophy Blog

The student-run Applied Philosophy blog interviewed me as part of their regular faculty profiles:

Philosophy lecturer Shawn Klein takes on applied philosophy while talking about his academic career and pursuits in philosophy. We discuss sports through the lens of applied philosophy while understanding the insights it has to offer regarding the value of sport, fair play and the place of sports in the American Educational System.

https://asuappliedphilosophyblog.com/2021/10/14/shawn-klein/

The site is pretty cool and not just because they profiled me. In addition to faculty profiles, they have an Ask Aristotle section as well as debates and other articles written by students and some faculty.

 

 

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CFP: College Sports and Ethics

This is an open call for College Sports and Ethics, an edited collection to be published as part of Lexington Books’ Studies in the Philosophy of Sport series.

This new anthology, edited by Chad Carlson and Shawn E. Klein, focuses on foundational ethical issues in college sports, including the fit of intercollegiate sports with the university and the question of professionalism. It will also tackle several important ethical topics that pertain particularly to college sports, such as athletes’ rights and recruitment. This edited collection brings together top scholars of sport to examine college sports and analyze the important ethical issues in college sport. We invite you to submit a proposal to contribute as well.

There are many possible topics to focus on and we are open to almost any topic so long as it directly addresses a normative issue within intercollegiate athletics. We are looking for papers that focus on the particular ways an issue affects or arises in college sports specifically.

Topics of particular interest or need:

  • Athlete mental health
  • Academic concerns in connection to athletics
  • Recruitment of athletes
  • Religious issues impacting college athletics
  • Team names/mascots
  • Spectatorship/fandom

These suggestions are not exhaustive and we welcome proposals on many other topics as well. Feel free to reach out to us before abstract submission to discuss a possible topic.

To contribute, please email the following:

  • An abstract (300-500 words)
  • A CV
  • Submit as a PDF
  • Email by Nov 1, 2021
  • Email: sklein@asu.edu and/or ccarlson@hope.edu

We will notify contributors of acceptance no later than January 2022, and look for manuscripts to be submitted by May 1, 2022. All contributions will go through peer-review. We are expecting publication in early 2023.

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ASU: Philosophy of Sport in Spring 2022

I will be teaching Philosophy of Sport again in Spring 2022 at ASU!

PHI 394: Philosophy of Sport

Course Description:

An inquiry into philosophical issues in sport. Topics and readings will vary, but may include: the nature and definition of sport, an examination of the main theories of sport, metaphysical and epistemological issues, and the aesthetics of sport. Since PHI 370 Sports Ethics examines ethical issues in sport, this course will not primarily deal with ethical issues.

This course counts towards ASU’s Sports, Cultures and Ethics Certificate.

Here is tentative schedule for the readings:

Week One: Introduction and overview

Week Two: Defining Sport

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Bernard Suits, “The Elements of Sport” in Osterhoudt, Robert G. The Philosophy of Sport: a Collection of Original Essays. Springfield, Ill., Thomas, 1973
    • McBride, Frank. “Toward A Non Definition of Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 2, 1975, pp. 4–11.

Week Three and Four: Sport and Play

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Suits, Bernard. “Words on Play.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 4, 1977, pp. 117–131.
    • Roochnik, David. “Play and Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 2, 1975, pp. 36-44.
    • Feezell, Randolph. “A Pluralist Conception of Play.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 37, 2010, pp. 147-165.

Week Five and Six: Sport and Games

  • Assigned Reading:
    • Suits, Bernard. “Tricky Triad: Games, Play, and Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 15, 1988, p. 1-10.
    • Meier, Klaus V. “Triad Trickery: Playing With Sport and Games.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 15, 1988, pp. 11–30.
    • C. Thi Nguyen, “Philosophy of Games.” Philosophy Compass, Vol. 12, No. 8, 2017, p 1-18.

Week Seven: Sport and Art

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Cordner, Christopher. “Differences Between Sport and Art.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 15, no. 1, 1988, pp. 31–47.
    • Holt, Jason. “Sport as art, dance as sport.” AUC Kinanthropologica, Vol. 53, No. 2, pp. 138–145.

Week Eight: Are E-Sports Sport?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Hemphill, Dennis, “E-sports are Not Sports.” Sports, Ethics and Philosophy, Vol 13, 2019, pp 3-18.
    • Gawrysiak, Joey, “E-sport: Video Games as Sport” in Defining Sport, edited by Shawn E. Klein, Lexington Books, 2016, pp 207-221

Spring Break

Week Nine: Theories of Sport: Formalism

  • Assigned Reading:
    • D’Agostino, Fred. “The Ethos of Games.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 8, no. 1, Fall 1981, pp. 7–18.
    • Morgan, William J. “The Logical Incompatibility Thesis and Rules: A Reconsideration of Formalism as an Account of Games.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 1987, pp. 1–20.

Weeks Ten and Eleven: Theories of Sport: Broad Internalism/Interpretivism

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Simon, Robert. “Internalism and Internal Values in Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 27, no. 1, 2000, pp. 1–16.
    • Russell, John. “Are Rules All an Umpire Has to Work With?” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 26, 1999, pp. 27–49.
    • Dixon, Nicholas. “Canadian Figure Skaters, French Judges, and Realism in Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 30, no 2, 2003, pp. 103–116.

Week Twelve: Theories of Sport: Practices and Narratives

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Brown, W. Miller. “Practices and Prudence.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 17, no. 1, Jan. 1990, pp. 71–84
    • Gleaves, John. “Sport as Meaningful Narratives.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 44, 2017, pp. 29–43.

Week Thirteen:  Theories of Sport: Deep Conventionalism

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Morgan, William. “Broad Internalism, Deep Conventions, Moral Entrepreneurs, and Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 39, 2012, pp. 65–100.
    • Moore, Eric. “Against Deep Conventionalism.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 45, no. 3, 2018, pp. 228–40.

Week Fourteen: Mind and Body

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Breivik, Gunnar. “Zombie-Like or Superconscious? A Phenomenological and Conceptual Analysis of Consciousness In Elite Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol. 40, no 1, 2013, pp. 1–22.
    • Sheets-Johnstone, Maxine, “Rationality and Caring: An Ontogenetic and Phylogenetic Perspective,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 29, no. 2, 2002, pp. 136-148.

Week Fifteen: Knowing in Sport

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Steel, Margaret, “What We Know When We Know A Game,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 4, no. 1, 1977, pp. 96-103.
    • Birch, Jens Erling, “Skills – do we really know what kind of knowledge they are?” Sport, ethics and philosophy, Vol.10, no. 3, 2016, pp.237-250

 

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Examined Sport: Stephen Finn, “In Defense of the Playoff System”

In this episode of Examined Sport, I look at Stephen Finn’s article “In Defense of the Playoff System” (Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 2009). In this article, Finn sets out first to challenge critiques of the playoff system from Nicholas Dixon and William Morgan, and then to offer his positive defense of the playoff system.

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Call for Session Proposals: IAPS @ APA 2022

I am seeking proposals for the IAPS affiliated group session at the 2022 Pacific APA. It is set to take place in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, April 13-16, 2022

I am looking for either a proposal to present a paper or a proposal for a set of thematically connected papers.

Any topic within philosophy of sport is welcomed.

What I need for the proposal:

  • Name and institutional affiliation
  • CV
  • Paper title & short abstract
  • Deadline: Sept 30th, 2021

If you are proposing a theme:

  • Names and institutional affiliations of each participant
  • CVs of each participant
  • Paper titles & short abstracts for each paper as part of the theme.
  • Deadline: Sept 30th, 2021

All presenters will need to be IAPS members. (Joining is easy: iaps.net)

Also, if you are planning on attending the Pacific APA and are willing to provide comments to any of the potential papers, please contact me.

Please send proposals by Sept 30th to Shawn Klein: sklein at asu.edu

Thanks!

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Examined Sport: Pam Sailors, “Mixed Competition and Mixed Messages”

In this episode of Examined Sport, I look at Pam Sailors’ “Mixed Competition and Mixed Messages.” Sailors takes up the question of sex segregation in sport by critiquing Jane English’s 1978 “Sex Equality in Sport”. Sailors then discusses how to deal with the complexity of gender in sport and how best to structure competitions.

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Examined Sport: Jane English, “Sex Equality in Sports”

In this episode of Examined Sport, I look at Jane English’s “Sex Equality in Sports,” published in Philosophy and Public Affairs in 1978. In this classic and influential paper, English examines what equal opportunity for women in sports means and what it implies.

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  • Jane English, “Sex Equality in Sports,” Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Spring, 1978), pp. 269-277

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Brief Review: The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values

Though a bit dated, The Game of Life is an essential book for understanding college sports. The authors analyze datasets of colleges and universities from the 50s, 70s, and 80s to get a sense of the impact, costs, and benefits of college sports on college and beyond. Though they don’t go beyond the late 80s/early 90s in their data, much of what they find is still relevant today, probably more so. There is little reason to think that the trends they see in the data would have reversed.

Their focus is on selective colleges and universities. They compare data from Division 1A, both public and private, institutions, Ivy League schools, and coed liberal arts colleges. They look across the spectrum of sports: not just football and men’s basketball. The first several chapters focus on men’s athletics and then they shift to women’s athletics. They look at admissions, academic outcomes, and impacts on later careers and earnings. They also examine how participation in athletics affects the kind of leadership roles students take on as well as the impact on charity and public service. Their analysis ends with a look at the financial costs of athletic programs. They close the book with a discussion of “propositions” that the authors hope might guide reform attempts.

There are many interesting findings. Some not at all surprising: academic outcomes for most athletes is worse than the average student at their respective institutions; almost no athletics program is profitable. Others are more surprising (at least to me). For example, one of the things they trace through the data is that as women’s athletics, in particular basketball and softball, become bigger (more money, more recruiting, etc), they start to mirror their male counterparts in terms of outcomes and impacts (for good and ill). In retrospect, it’s kind of obvious that this would be the case, but seeing the data that, for example, as recruitment of women athletes intensifies, the academic outcomes start to look more and more like the outcomes of recruited male athletes was eye-opening nonetheless.

For the most part, the book is straightforwardly empirical. The authors present and discuss the data (There is an appendix of 30-40 pages that summaries the key points of the data). There’s little pontification, judgment making, or self-righteous criticism. It’s a serious attempt to bring together data to better understand the history and state of college athletics. It is really only in the last chapter that the authors share how they judge the state of things and where they think it ought to go. They self-consciously do not offer a “blueprint,” but they present nine propositions (which are more like aspirations) to guide reform. Personally, I do not think most of these are workable given the considerable impediments to reform that the authors themselves discuss.

The biggest takeaway, I suppose, of the book is that college athletics and the rest of the university are increasingly diverging. The authors see an important role for athletics as part of the overall mission and purpose of the university, and want to find ways to bridge this gap. However, the data they present doesn’t show a way to do anything about this widening gyre.

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Examined Sport: Nicholas Dixon, “A Moral Critique of Mixed Martial Arts”

In this episode of Examined Sport, I discuss Nicholas Dixon’s “A Moral Critique of Mixed Martial Arts” published in Public Affairs Quarterly in 2015. This paper is one of the first philosophical analyses of the sport of MMA.

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CFP: Studies in Philosophy of Sport

This is an active and ongoing call for proposals for the Studies in Philosophy of Sport series from Lexington Books.

This series encourages scholars from all disciplines to inquire into the nature, importance, and qualities of sport and related activities. The series aims to encourage new voices and methods for the philosophic study of sport while also inspiring established scholars to consider new questions and approaches.

The series encourages scholars new to the philosophy of sport to bring their expertise to this growing field. These new voices bring innovative methods and different questions to the standard issues in the philosophy of sport. Well-trodden topics in the literature will be reexamined with fresh takes and new questions and issues will be explored to advance the field beyond traditional positions.

A few possible topic ideas:

  • A deep analysis of one of the central concepts or theories in philosophy of sport.
    • Internalism, conventionalism, mutualism, etc.
    • Fouls and rules
    • Technology and its philosophical implications
    • Competition
    • Sportsmanship
  • Epistemological issues in sport: can sport teach us anything about how and what we know?
  • Metaphysical issues in sport: mind/body, personal identity, time, etc.
  • Application of contemporary approaches to philosophy to sport.
  • Look at a specific sport (rugby, tennis, gymnastics, etc.) and examine what philosophy can tell us about that sport and/or what that sport can teach us about philosophy.
  • Philosophical/ethical issues in the Olympics, college athletics, or youth sports.
  • Adaption of dissertation to a monograph.

Proposal Information

Review the proposal guidelines.

The series publishes both monographs and edited volumes. The “philosophy of sport” should be construed broadly to include many different methodological approaches, historical traditions, and academic disciplines.

I am happy to discuss topics before a formal proposal is submitted. Just email me and we’ll get the ball rolling.

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