Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 401–410 | Cite as

Philosophy on steroids: a reply

  • Oskar MacGregor
  • Mike McNamee


Brent Kious has recently attacked several arguments generally adduced to support anti-doping in sports, which are widely supported by the sports medicine fraternity, international sports federations, and international governments. We show that his attack does not succeed for a variety of reasons. First, it uses an overly inclusive definition of doping at odds with the WADA definition, which has global, if somewhat contentious, currency. Second, it seriously misconstrues the position it attacks, rendering the attack without force against a more balanced construal of an anti-doping position. Third, it makes unwarranted appeals to matters Kious considers morally ‘clear’, while simultaneously attacking a position many others take to be equally morally ‘clear’, namely that of anti-doping. Such an inconsistency, attacking and appealing to the moral status quo as befits one’s argument, is not acceptable without further qualification. Fourth, his position suffers from a general methodological flaw of over-reliance upon argumentation by analogy. Moreover, it is argued that the analogies, being poorly selected and developed, fail to justify his conclusion that the anti-doping lobby lacks philosophical and moral authority for its stance. These issues are symptomatic of a more fundamental problem: any attempt at providing a blanket solution to the question of whether doping is morally acceptable or not is bound to run up against problems when applied to highly specific contexts. Thus, rather than reaching any particular conclusion for or against doping products or processes in this article, we conclude that an increased context-sensitivity will result in a more evenhanded appraisal of arguments on the matter.


Sports ethics Doping Moral methodology Sports Performance enhancement 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, History and Law in Healthcare, School of Human and Health SciencesSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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