In his most recent column for NPR's 13.7 Cosmos and Culture blog, philosopher Alva Noë takes a pragmatic view of doping in sports. In his previous column, Making Peace with Our Cyborg Nature, he suggested (to much derision it appears) that performance enhancing drugs are simply another technology in the "extended self" model of human life (i.e., technologies are extensions of mind and body), another tool that extends our abilities and our experiences.
It seems the readers could not grasp that argument - to them, it's just cheating, plain and simple, black and white. So this week, he tries a different approach. Yes, doping is cheating, "but it is cheating that is intelligible and motivated internal to the game, it is cheating that is consistent, in so many ways, with the spirit of self-actualization, creativity, and achievement that is the mark of all sports."
In this argument, doping is cheating in the same way that a base runner takes down the catcher at home base to dislodge the ball, or the same way that a Nascar driver bumps a competitor to get past him (or her), or the same way that a striker goes down as though he was shot with the slightest contact from a defender in a soccer match. These are not the "best moments" of the sport, but they are part of the sport . . . just as PEDs are part of cycling, football, and so many other sports.
I totally agree.
August 31, 2012