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.
Champions in the Age of COVID-19 - Sport, Ethics & Philosophy
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 (2018) vol.4, no.1, pp49-66 [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.
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.
If all our actions are shaped by luck, are we stil agents? - 25th March, 2020, AEON
A piece on agency and luck
What football can teach us about the philosophy of regret - 28th July, 2018, Prospect
In this piece I explore agent-regret in relation to penalty shootouts.