The Fields of Philosophy and their Application in the Philosophy of Sport

From the Learning and Teaching Support Network's Resource Guide in Philosophy of Sport (

The philosophy of sport is a conceptual investigation into the nature of sport and related concepts, areas and professions.

It draws upon and develops many branches of philosophy and reflects a variety of theoretical positions and styles.

It addresses substantive issues in the following sub-fields of philosophy as exemplified within sport and related human activities involving the use of the body in social practices and institutions:

  • aesthetics: the nature of beauty (e.g. is sport a form of art? are sports events works of art? can we objectively evaluate sports actions aesthetically?)

  • epistemology: the philosophy of knowledge (e.g. can kinaesthetic awareness properly be called knowledge? what precisely do we know when we are able to perform skills? must a coach have performance knowledge at elite level to coach effectively at that level?)

  • ethics: the nature of morals and moral choices (e.g. does sport necessarily develop good character? what do we agree to when we agree to play a game? is there such a thing as the ethos of sports?)

  • philosophy of education (e.g. can we morally educate through sport? is paternalism in sports coaching and teaching inevitable? what do we mean by the concept "sport skill"?)

  • philosophy of law (e.g. can children give consent to engage in elite sports training? do rules underdetermine conduct?)

  • logic: a system of reasoning (e.g. are sports separate from other spheres of logic by their nature? are the concepts of sport and game logically discrete?)

  • metaphysics: the ultimate composition of reality, the relationship of mind and matter (e.g. are humans naturally game playing animals?)

  • philosophy of mind (e.g. is mental training just a form of imagination? are athletes simply to be thought of as machines?)

  • philosophy of rules (Constitutive rules govern the meaning assigned to act, givean a specific situation. Regulative rules concern the way individuals organize the meaning of actions in a sequence. Are sports rules regulative or constitutive ones?)

  • philosophy of science (e.g. is there such a thing as a singular method for all sciences? what does a sports scientist mean when they say a given statistical procedure has explanatory power? why do sports psychologists ignore the (post) Freudian tradition?)

  • social and political philosophy (e.g. did a pure conception of sport ever exist in a given social and political time and order? are sports competition necessarily capitalistic in nature? do sports institutions always corrupt pure play?)