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Question

Write a 6 page philosophy paper. here is the topic: 1. As we’ve seen, some people think doping* should continue to be banned from sports** whereas others think that such a ban should be lifted. Your job is to argue for one side or the other. In the course of so doing, you must give (at least) one BAD argument for your conclusion and explain why it’s bad. (Don’t give the stupidest thing you can think of better something with at least a shred of initial plausibility.) 

You must also lay out, with sympathy, what you take to be the best argument for the other side, explain what’s good about it, then defend your position against it anyhow. Ideally, your paper will touch on what you take the nature of sport to be. * For the purposes of this paper, you may assume that doping includes currently banned performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids and human growth factor, and currently banned practices such as blood or gene manipulation.

 If the details matter to the point you want to make (say, you think there is a morally relevant difference between different drugs), then raise them. Otherwise, leave those details out. Focus on the philosophical issues http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/World_Anti-Doping_Program/WADP-Prohibited-list/2014/WADA-prohibited-list-2014-EN.pdf ** You may assume elite adult sports. If the distinction between amateur and professional is relevant to what you have to say, you may make it, but be aware it’s a little vexed.

Answer:

Philosophical Argument against Doping

Abstract

The arguments for anti-doping policy and those against the policy border on philosophical theories of rights, virtue, harm versus benefit, and duty-based frameworks. There is need to validate the policy with philosophical theories. The acceptable choices or ethical guidelines in sports attempt to achieve certain values, which society perceives as morally acceptable. The merit of the anti-doping policy depends on its function in protecting and promoting rights, virtues, and beliefs in sports.

Introduction

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits sportspersons from using certain drugs believed to influence the ability of a sportsperson to compete. There has been a growing debate over the legitimacy of anti-doping policy. The arguments brought forward by various contributors seem to question or provide philosophical backing of the anti-doping policy. Nevertheless, some philosophers enjoined in this debate believe that anti-doping policy should have ethical and philosophical backing. The major arguments surrounding the anti-doping policy is the extent to which the policy is substantiated by ethical and philosophical arguments. Is there enough evidence to legitimize the anti-doping policy? A bid to support or oppose the anti-doping policy has attracted philosophical and ethical arguments from parties interested in promoting sporting values. However, such arguments have often left some philosophers thinking that eradicating doping in sport is an unachievable goal. In spite of these conflicting arguments, doping should continue to be banned from sports as it violates rights, causes physical harm, and negates fairness and integrity.

Opponents of doping believe that the use of drugs that enhance sportsmanship pose moral and empirical impacts on users and sporting in general. The use of drugs that enhance sporting ability tends to promote cheating thereby breaching the principle of fairness in sport (WADA). The principle of fairness demands that sports participants should not use drugs which may stimulate their bodies to have a competitive edge against their opponents. This principle stems from the philosophical view on rights of the participants. In sports, there are rules and guidelines which define the nature of engagement among the sports participants. The essence of sporting rules and guidelines is to protect the rights of the sports persons. In this case, the ethical argument on fairness stems from the philosophical argument on rights. The philosophical argument on rights roots for fairness based on acknowledgement of human dignity (Brown, 1984). In sports, the merits of the athlete should be a reflection of factors that are within his or her control. The sporting ability and achievements should be a manifestation of the amount of effort and self-motivation that are consistent with natural life as opposed to fanaticism.

The moment a sportsperson uses performance-enhancing drugs, he or she violates or undermines the natural rights of other participants who do not use the drugs. The duty-based philosophy holds that an act is only morally acceptable if it stems from duty and the motive of the doer. On the contrary, doping promotes cheating in sports because the intention of this act is unfair enhancement of a sportsperson’s ability to have an undue edge over other participants. In addition, since cheating is morally unacceptable, at no moment will it lead to fair sporting. When one group of participants engage in cheating and they find room to participate in sports, the entire sporting activity would thus be promoting deprivation of rights of other sportspersons who do not use such drugs.

Sports provide an arena through which society projects the values that it deems are right and worth passing down to generations to come. The use of drugs that enhance one’s sporting ability creates conflict of values because it emphasizes the rights of the drug users over non-drug users, and it skews the context of practice with a view to denying credibility to other values (Simon, 1984). The conflict, which arises from drug use to enhance sporting ability and achievement, is a breach of values of sporting. Sporting values hinge on sports ethics and guidelines. The need to create sports ethics stemmed from the philosophical argument that supports existence of guidelines and law in society. The function of law is to protect the interests and values that are acceptable in society. In this light, the anti-doping policy attempts to promote the societal value of fairness and protection from harm.

The philosophical argument on harm versus benefit attempts to explain how good or bad the drugs are to athletes who do not consume them. Some athletes do not take drugs but they take part in sports. There is scientific evidence that indicates that doping drugs improve the performance of athletes (WADA). Thus, the practice places coercive pressure on athletes that do not take these drugs because they would only compete favorably if they also take part in consuming the drugs. Doping denies the non-drug users the right to enjoy fair competition (Simon, 1984). In this case, athletes can only complete fairly when circumstances surrounding their activity does not deny them their fundamental liberty of choice. Notably, since the use of the drugs harm non-users or force non-users to make decisions that infringe their fundamental rights, the only way to protect their liberty is to exempt them from participating in the competition. Although drug users have rights in equal amount as the non-drug users, putting them to compete disrespects the rights of the less favored party. To bring fairness, the drug users should compete in their own group and the same should apply to the non-drug users. In this case, none of these groups would challenge the legitimacy of the competition based on the harm-benefit philosophical framework.

Further, the premise of sporting excellence and contest is to test natural skills of participants. In this case, doping is unacceptable because it improves the natural skills thus diminishing the relevance of sports. The duty-based philosophical framework posits that an action is acceptable if it would treat the affected as means, never as means to an end (Brown, 1984). This philosophical argument roots for equal treatment of participants’ values and beliefs. Each sportsperson has values and beliefs; however, society should only honor these beliefs and values if they promote universal interest. Doping does not promote the values or beliefs of non-drug users. Instead, it creates unfavorable circumstances to one group of participants.

The value-based philosophical argument is achievable when the non-drug users have the autonomy to reject unfavorable competition and unnecessary pain. The decision to consume drugs arises from coercive force piled by the drug users and it infringes into the rights and values of the participants. If the body governing sports accepts doping, it would justify unnecessary pain or harm and infringement of rights and values of people willing to neither consume drugs voluntarily nor participate in sports. As asserted by WADA (2014), consumption of drugs that affect the natural body functions should be an individual’s choice as opposed to pressure from the society.

The underlying philosophical argument behind informed consent is an individual’s fundamental rights. In society, every individual has autonomy to make informed choices. This autonomy demands that one should ascend to a given practice out of will rather than coercion. The autonomy of the athlete to make informed choices ceases the moment the sports’ governing body permits the use of drugs to enhance performance. Such policy would only favor the people who are taking drugs out of choice while infringing into the rights of those who use the drugs just because they lack an alternative to remain competitive (Brown, 1984). Some philosophers agree that the coercion is a problem to athletes because they have other viable alternatives that are achievable in the absence of coercion.

Doping may also result in negative physical and mental health consequences for athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs. Physically, the health of an athlete can be severely impacted depending on regularity of use, dose, and the substance used. It is even more worrying that “the damage done to the body cannot be reversed in many cases” (“Consequences of Doping,” 2016). The use of the drugs can even yield life-threatening side effects. Mentally, the mind of an athlete can get affected and impaired by the drugs. Some of the effects that have been scientifically linked to doping include permanent psychosis, hallucinations, and anxiety.

Proponents of anti-doping policy seem to base their arguments on the philosophy of virtue. The virtue-based theory attempts to define what people should be in society. This philosophical argument seems to justify the character rather than the action of the character. Society associates sports with excellence and this association tends to affect the manner in which society sees sports personalities. The virtue of competitive sports sets the ground for society to see excellent sports personalities as icons (Simon, 1984). The moment an athlete uses drugs to achieve excellence, he or she dilutes the virtue of sports (Brown, 1984). For instance, consider a situation where the most celebrated sports personality cheated to achieve this virtue. The situation could create an idea that cheating or corrupting one’s way towards achieving excellence is acceptable. The moral good of using the drugs or not using them to enhance competitiveness stems from what society considers as virtuous values. If a virtue tends to promote individualistic interest at the expense of societal moral good, then the act is unacceptable. In this respect, doping does not support the moral obligation of doing what is good and acceptable in society. While some philosophers would refute virtue-based philosophy as no longer sensible, society is not devoid of values that are universally acceptable.

The need to protect the young from harm is a universal need as opposed to an individual need. Opponents of doping believe that this practice harm children because they largely depend on environmental factors in character building. The merit of this argument borders on the premise that society should limit the contents that children should receive or learn with a view to molding them into responsible people in society. On the contrary, when children see athletes consuming drugs to gain a competitive edge, they may think nothing is wrong with drug consumption (Brown, 1984). In this regard, society or the body that permits the use of drugs harms children because the resulting situation is such that the children do not have a chance to choose but practice what they observe.

Conclusion

Doping should continue to be prohibited in sports as it results in harm, violates sporting rights, and detriments integrity and fairness as core sporting values. Arguments against doping seem to question the moral good of drugs used by some people to enhance their ability to compete. The contention surrounding the acceptance of these drugs stems from the philosophical arguments of virtue, rights, harm versus benefit, and duty. Doping should only be accepted if it can promote the moral good, protect fundamental rights of every participant, and not pose any harm to non-drug users. Contrarily however, the practice only promotes cheating which society regards as morally wrong. It coerces some members of society into settling for practices that they would not go for if they had an alternative. Finally, it breaches the virtue of fairness, which sports aims to develop and promote. It is thus unfortunate that proponents of doping refute these arguments on the ground that sports permeate competition and the use of drugs is one of the means to achieve competitive edge.

References

Brown, M. W. (1984). Paternalism, drugs, and the nature of sports. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport II, pp. 14-22.

Consequences of Doping. (2016). In Fifa.com. Retrieved May 28, 2020 from https://no-doping.fifa.com/en/what-is-doping/consequences-of-doping.html

Simon, L. R. (1984). Good competition and drug enhanced performance. Journal of the Philosophy of Sports II, pp. 6-13.

WADA. (2014). “The 2014 prohibited list international standard”. World Anti-Doping Agency. Retrieved from http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/World_Anti-Doping_Program/WADP-Prohibited-list/2014/WADA-prohibited-list-2014-EN.pdf

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