Order Description;

The two readings are: Practice and Prudence, W. Miller Brown (Ch.6),
Moral Liberalism and the Atrophy of Sport: Autonomy, Desire and Social Irresponsibility, M. Andrew Holowchak (Ch.7)
both of them are from the book Philosophy of Sport by M. Andrew Holowchak Below is the question of this paper:

The dispute between W. Miller Brown and M. Andrew Holowchak with respect to the permissibility of PEDs in major sport may be understood as a conflict of values, with Brown and other ‘liberal’ philosophers placing the value of individual autonomy above others, while Holowchak’s more communitarian approach puts other considerations above individual autonomy. Can we come to a resolution of this dispute by reference to the ‘essence’ of major sport? Further, is there an analogy between the place of autonomy in sport and the place of autonomy in society, or does the world of sport fail to be sufficiently analogous to the larger society? Explain.


Permissibility of performance-enhancing drugs in sports has raised a lot of concern. Different philosophers have argued about the use of these drugs in relation to sporting events and the possible effects they bring a long. This has raised conflicts about the placing the value of individual autonomy above others and that of putting others considerations above personal autonomy. The use of performance-enhancing drugs raises many moral and ethical questions. Some of these questions include; whether it is ethical to condemn athletes who use PEDs to achieve excellence, why athletes should not be allowed to pursue athletic success by means of using drugs and finally whether taking PEDs with the intention of improving performance should be regarded as morally permissible.

The use of drugs to enhance performance has adverse consequences. These drugs have the ability of drastically changing the body functioning of the athlete to impact on his or her performances. Misuse of the products causes breach of ethics by both the suppliers and users, as they are not prescribed to treat any injury or illness. The truth about using the PEDs is that they do not enhance the long run performance of the athlete and pose serious negative health effects. The harm principle states that it is morally permissible to interfere with the behavior of rational, free, and competent adults in order to prevent harm to others. Therefore, it is not morally acceptable to prevent professional athletes from taking PEDs, as it does not harm others.

Performance enhancing drugs are used almost in all major sport activities. Many people believe that the use of PEDs is morally wrong and therefore must be banned from sports. There are several arguments supporting the idea of permissibility of the drugs. The first one is that PEDs are banned globally. Players are currently being heavily fined and suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. Before the start of major sporting events, athletes are tested for steroids use and any positive results automatically disqualify them. Athletes using PEDs knowingly for competitive advantage violates the rules of the sports by being unfair to the other competitors. This rule perhaps is unjust as an athlete with a headache or inflammation in a joint could morally and legally take some ibuprofen before the start of the competition. The consumption of the ibuprofen in many cases will enhance the performance of the athlete (Brown 71-84).

The second argument does not consider whether PEDs are banned by the current rules of sports but by the unfairness, they cause in competition. Anything that gives the athletes an unfair advantage over the competitors is wrong. PEDs such as human growth hormones, anabolic steroids and amphetamines help the athletes to become stronger, reduce body fat, run faster, recover faster and hit harder than those who do not use performance enhancing drugs. Though some athletes have better coaches, better nutrition, trainers, equipment and information due to better economic circumstances, it is not morally right for those with less resources to use drugs to enhance performance.

The third argument is based on the worries about the health hazards of banned PEDs to athletes. Some of the risks associated with using these drugs include liver problems, fertility problems, baldness, vision problems, cardiovascular complications, and adverse effects on blood lipids. Most of the greatest athletes are under suspicion of using banned PEDs. Today’s world of sports is very competitive and can be more fun and lucrative and thus many competitors will opt to use PEDs to become famous. The harm and pressure objection is highly controversial as use of some performance enhancing drugs in the short term can cause long-term effects. This will consequently ruin the compettitve careers of athletes at an immature age. Participating in sports like car racing, playing football, skiing, and boxing under the influence of PEDs is very dangerous as they are very involving.

Philosophers give different opinions regarding the use of PEDs. Some argue that the harm caused by these drugs are enormous and therefore ought to be banned to preserve morality. Other philosophers might be willing to allow adult athletes the autonomy to use PEDs, although the use of such drugs is illegal for children who are not yet mature. This is according to the norms of the autonomous society.

In conclusion, it is not morally right for athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs. However, this objection does not necessarily apply because it is against the actual rules. It does not support the idea whether the rules are good or that PEDs ought to be banned. The world of sports should be analogous to the larger society by following only what is acceptable and banning what is not accepted. This will help in fighting conflicts of values by the society and the individual autonomy. Therefore, ideal competitive sport is where there is test of dedication, motivation, innate and developed athletic abilities of persons.

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