Sport philosopher Claudia Pawlenka attempts in this book to present some of the diffuse voices on key issues in the sport-ethics field, in order to demonstrate its diversity and potential. In the detailed and interesting introduction, Pawlenka defines sport ethics as a kind of professional or applied ethics, whose sphere of application ranges from individual sport actions in competitive settings, through the institutional structures of sport and sport science, to the rote of sport in (global) society. In addition, sport ethics is seen to include basic discussions about the nature of rules, fairness, the normative characteristics of sport, and the role of ethical theory in a practical held such as sport. Pawlenka then refers us to a series of works in German to exemplify the diffuse approaches to the hold.
The themes chosen for this collection of essays – rules, fairness, and doping – are considered basic themes of sport ethics. References are made to the constitutive function of rules in sport, to the basic meaning of fairness in sport settings, and to the radical challenge to our understanding of sport posed by doping and other, extreme versions of performance-enhancing technologies.
The section an rules opens with two texts by Bernard Suits and one by R. Scott Kretchmar, originally written in English and translated into German by the editor. Suits's seminal treatment of rules and games is presented. This is followed by R. Scott Kretchmar's functionalist analysis of constitutive and regulative rules, which calls for a more pluralistic understanding of the issue. Following that is an empiricul-pragmatic account of rule understanding by Emrich and Papathanassiou and a nonessentialist Wittgensteinian intetpretation by Gunnar Drexel. Pawlenka's contribution examines the relationship between Suits's understanding of games and the formal-aesthetic position of the German sport philosopher Elk Franke. The final essay of this section, by Thomas Gerstmeyer, anchors a justification of sport and sport rules to philosophical anthropology. The section is nicely routed, departing from the straight, analytic definition of games, traveling via nonessentialist Wittgensteinian interpretations, and terminating at the justification of sport in ideal conceptions of the human being.
The second section, on fairness, opens with an article by Hans Lenk, in which he elaborates an his distinctions between formal and informal fairness in sport and individualistic and institutional interpretations of the concept. Konrad Ott uses a Rawlsian justification scheme in an attempt to tease out the basic ideas of justice in Sport, and Volker Caysa conceives the idea of fairness as related to one's own Body within a cultural anthropological framework. Meinhart Volkamer, Robert Prohl, and Frans de Wachter use different approaches, but each sets fairness against the backround of the tension between the particular normative structures of sport and the notion that sport ethics is grounded in general ethical ideals. Elk Franke and Eugen König see the need for external, normative perspectives on sport. Franke's essay explores what he considers to be the ethical vacuum of the immediate Sport environment, particularly sport science. König is skeptical about the prospects for sport ethics in a modern competitive sport that is predominated by an instrumental and technologized quest for continuous progress. The section ends with a translation of Bill Morgan's critique of what he considers the ethnocentric and subjectivist aspects of Gebauer's and Roberts's works on sport ethics. The connection with the topic of fairness is sometimes weak, but the section does present a variety of perspectives that shed some innovative light on key questions in sport ethics.
The final section of the hook consists of eight essays on doping. Diethmar Mieths argues in favor of what he calls a "convergence argumentation," in which arguments on health, fairness, and "the natural" are synthesized. Eckhard Meinberg demonstrates the complexity of the doping discourse and proposes an anthropologically based ethical approach to the problem. Barbara Ränsch-Trill signals a skepticism toward traditional arguments against doping, grounded in the limited relevance of traditional conceptions of performance, "the natural", and autonomy, to modern society and modern sport. Frans de Wachter discusses the possibility of understanding the ban on drugs as a constitutive rule of sport, arguing systematically that doping deprives sport of its basic, playful spirit. Heiner Hastedt and Bernard Irrgang are highly critical of the use of "naturalness" in the doping debate. Hastedt grounds his skepticism on the problem-solving potential of practical ethics, and Irrgang's is grounded on philosophical anthropology. Claudia Pawlenka and Sven Güldenpfennig complete the section with essays on genetic technology and gene doping. Pawienka attempts to restore and sharpen the ideal of "the natural" in sport, which she grounds ethically in the concepts of justice and the natural. Güldenpfennig proposes a restrictive policy on genetic technology, grounded in the fundamental threat posed by modern medical technology to the cultural-ethical aspects of sport.
The overall impression of the hook is positive. The themes are relevant, the general standard of the essays is very good, and the book offers new twists and perspectives (at least to a reader of the Anglo-Saxon literature). In fact, the collection stimulates reflection on similarities and differences in scholarship between English and German sport philosophy. The English sport ethics found in, for instance, the Journal of the Philosophv qf Sport tends to show analytic, cognitivist, and clearly normative approaches. German scholarship is (in this book at least) more exegetic, discursive, and contextualist. The contrast between the analytic approach of Suits and the contextual or anthropological approaches of Drexel and Gerstmeier is striking. Similarly, the inclusion of ecological and anthropological thinking, manifest in Caysa and Meinberg, is quite original with respect to the English literature. That said, genuine, systematic differences in scholarship should be seen not as rival but as complementary and mutually inspiring approaches in our field.
As in any book of this format and variety, some critical comment is legitimate. This is not the place for a critical discussion of individual essays, and my comments are restricted to some general points. First, the three topics of the book are important in the sport-ethics literature, but the interconnections are not really clear. Why is the emphasis put on "the right" and fairness? Why is there not a clearer discussion of the values or the flourishing of sport? Moreover, doping seems to be a historically situated challenge that is not conceptually an a par with the topics of rules and fairness. Perhaps a final section on interpretations of "athletic performance", into which the whole debate about performance enhancement could have been integrated, would have better fitted the tenor of the book.
Furthermore, the essays by German authors are, with a few exceptions, based almost exclusively an German literature. Obviously, there is extensive discussion of rules, games, fairness, and doping in English, and in other languages for that matter. Most of these discussions are not mentioned here, even in Pawlenka's introduction. Indeed, there is the parallel ethnocentrism in almost all comparable English books. When will there be contributions that break the solid wall that seems to exist between these two research cultures? Might the first step be translations of key essays from English into German, and vice versa? Pawlenka has, however, in translating into German, performed an important task in this book.
A final critical point concerns Bill Morgan's contribution. Morgan's essay is interesting, and Morgan is perhaps the English-speaking writer who comes closest to what I have sketched (perhaps crudely) as German sport-philosophical scholarship. Still, I find his critique of Roberts and Gebauer inappropriate so long as his opponents are not given the chance to present their views and responses. This is not Morgan's responsibility but the editor's. lt is problematic to select only one voice in an ongoing debate.
Basically, however, Sportethik. Regeln - Fairness - Doping is a rich and interesting book with reflective and sometimes innovative views an key problems in sport ethics and Sport philosophy. I wish only that more of its material could be translated into English, to enable those of our colleagues who do not read German to enjoy its insights.