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Academic Writing

The titles serve as links to the published versions, and I have included pre-prints. Please feel free to email me if you need access to the published version. 

Sportswashing: Complicity and Corruption - Sport, Ethics & Philosophy [open access]

With Kyle Fruh and Alfred Archer

When the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup was awarded to Qatar, it raised a number of moral concerns, perhaps the most prominent of which was Qatar’s woeful record on human rights in the arena of migrant labour. Qatar’s interest in hosting the event is aptly characterised as a case of ‘sportswashing’. The first aim of this paper is to provide an account of the nature of sportswashing, as a practice of using an association with sport, usually through hosting an event or owning a club (such as Newcastle United, owned by Saudi Arabia), to subvert the way that others attend to a moral violation for which the sportswashing agent is responsible. This may be done through distracting away from wrongdoing, minimising it, or normalising it. Second, we offer an account of the distinctive wrongs of sportswashing. The gravest moral wrong is the background injustice which sportswashing threatens to perpetuate. But the distinctive wrongs of sportswashing are twofold: first, it makes participants in sport (athletes, coaches, journalists, fans) complicit in the sportswasher’s wrongdoing, which extends a moral challenge to millions of people involved with sport. Second, sportswashing corrupts valuable heritage associated with sporting traditions and institutions. Finally, we examine how sportswashing ought to be resisted. The appropriate forms of resistance will depend upon different roles people fill, such as athlete, coach, journalist, fan. The basic dichotomy of resistance strategies is to either exit the condition of complicity, for example by refusing to participate in the sporting event, or to modify one’s engagement with the goal of transformation in mind. We recognize this is difficult and potentially burdensome: sports are an important part of many of our lives; our approach attempts to respect this.

It's Much More Important Than That - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport [open access]

With Alfred Archer

Do sports fans really care about their team winning? According to several philosophers, the answer is no. Sports fans engage in fictional caring during the match, which involves a game of make-believe that the result is important. We will argue that this account does not provide a full account of the way in which fans relate to the teams they support. For many fans, the team they support forms a core part of their identity. The success or failure of their team impacts the community they are a part of and around which they build a central part of their identity. For these fans, it really does matter whether their team wins or loses. We will finish by articulating a more limited role that fictional caring may play in sports fandom.

 

Agent-Regret, Accidents, and Respect - The Journal of Ethics [pre-print]

I explore how agent-regret and its object—faultlessly harming someone—can call for various responses. I look at two sorts of responses. Firstly, I explore responses that respect the agent’s role as an agent. This revolves around a feature of “it was just an accident”—a common response to agent-regret—that has largely gone ignored in the literature: that it can downplay one’s role as an agent. I argue that we need to take seriously the fact that those who have caused harms are genuine agents, to ignore this fails to allow these agents to move on. Secondly, following Sussman and MacKenzie, I explore responses that benefit the victim. I argue that we should strive to understand how to configure these responses in a way that does not blame the agent. To do this I look at the role of actions in our self-understanding, as people who have done particular things. I end by briefly considering the ways in which tort law and restorative justice might help us to understand how to appropriately respond to accidentally harming someone. I urge that we need to take this as a starting point to find a better way to respond to the agents of faultless harms.

The Purity of Agent-Regret - Philosophy [pre-print]

I argue for a novel understanding of the nature of agent-regret. On the standard picture, agent-regret involves regretting the result of one’s action and thus regretting one’s action. I argue that the standard picture is a flawed analysis of agent-regret. I offer several cases of agent-regret where the agent feels agent-regret but does not regret the result itself. I appeal to other cases where an agent’s attitude towards something depends upon whether or not they are involved in that thing. I argue that the same applies to actions: sometimes an agent’s attitude towards a result differs from their attitude to their involvement in bringing about that result. Agent-regret is regret about my own action, but it need not involve regret about something in the world. I end by considering how this picture of agent-regret allows us to respond to a particular criticism of agent-regret.

Champions in the Age of COVID-19 - Sport, Ethics & Philosophy [open access]

With Alex Wolf-Root

How should sport deal with prematurely ended seasons? This question is especially relevant to the current COVID-19 interruption that threatens to leave many leagues without champions. We argue that although there can be no winners, in certain situations there should be champions. Relevant to the current situation, we argue that Liverpool FC—currently with a 22+ point lead—should be crowned champions of the English Premier League. However, things are not as simple as simply handing the championship to whoever was in the lead when a season is prematurely ended. Through analogy with a fictional decathlon competition—and with the understanding that sporting seasons are themselves a type of game—we identify three reasons why leading at the moment of cessation is insufficient to be crowned a victor (of an individual event) or a champion (of a season-long competition): doing so fails to respect some valuable skills, fails to allow for luck to play out in an interesting way that affects competitions, and fails to respect competitive strategies. This discussion can then inform determining what, if any, end-of-season accolades are relevant, such as championships, relegation, or promotion. No team can win in a league that has failed to be completed, but there can still be a champion.​

Fans, Identity, and Punishment - Sport, Ethics & Philosophy [pre-print]

I argue that sports clubs should be punished for bad behaviour by their fans in a way that affects the club’s sporting success: for example, we are justified in imposing points deductions and competition disqualifications on the basis of racist chanting. This is despite a worry that punishing clubs in such a way is unfair because it targets the sports team rather than the fans who misbehaved. I argue that this belies a misunderstanding of the nature of sports clubs and of the nature of sporting success. Further, I argue that fans should want to be held responsible in such a way because it vindicates the significant role that they play in the life of their club.

 

Bernard Williams on Regarding One's Own Action Purely Externally - The Journal of the American Philosophical Association [pre-print]

I explore what Bernard Williams means by regarding one’s action ‘purely externally, as one might regard anyone else’s action’, and how it links to regret and agent-regret. I suggest some ways that we might understand the external view: as a failure to recognize what one has done, in terms of Williams’s distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic luck, and as akin to Thomas Nagel’s distinction between an internal and external view. I argue that none of these captures what Williams was getting at because they do not allow one to take a view on one’s action. I offer two alternative accounts. One turns around what we identify with, the other concerns what we care about. Both accounts capture how I might regret, rather than agent-regret, my own action. I demonstrate that these accounts can explain the  relationship between an insurance payout and the external view, and they can explain the agent-relativity of agent-regret.

Agent-regret and sporting glory - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport [pre-print]

When sporting agents fail through wrongful or faulty behaviour, they should feel guilty; when they fail because of a deficiency in their abilities, they should feel shame. But sometimes we fail without being deficient and without being at fault. I illustrate this with two examples of players, Moacir Barbosa and Roberto Baggio, who failed in World Cup finals and cost their team the greatest prize in sport. Although both players failed, I suggest that neither was at fault and neither was deficient. I argue that we can fail through no fault of our own because our abilities are always fallible. This fallibility means that to succeed—to achieve sporting glory—we must run the risk of failure. The appropriate emotion to feel over such failures is agent-regret. Sporting agents and observers should not take up what I call the ‘critical position’: the idea that someone who fails must be deficient or must have been at fault. This allows for a softer, but also more accurate, attitude towards our own failures and the failures of others. I end by suggesting that the fallibility of our abilities is made clear through playing or watching sport, and this can illuminate life more broadly.

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