Heather L. Reid

Aristotle on the Beauty of Fair Play

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Aristotle, Beauty, Fair Play, Kalokagathia, Virtue Ethics.

Fairness is an important ethical concept, especially in sport where «fair play» seems to function as the universal arbiter of what is right and wrong. Some philosophers have argued that fairness as an ethical concept actually derives from sport. I believe that it comes from the criterion of to kalon (beauty) found in ancient Greek Philosophy. In this paper I argue, based on Aristotle’s use of to kalon in the Nicomachean and Eudemian Ethics, that fairness is a disposition – an ethical-aesthetic sense characteristic of the kaloskagathos (good and beautiful person). In fact, I think the term «fairness» and its cognates may be better translations for Aristotle’s use of to kalon, because they reflect a connection between beauty and goodness. Fair actions on Aristotle’s account are voluntary, autotelic, and pleasant. This account may seem to be at odds with the more analytic and rule-based understanding of fair≠ness current in ethics and philosophy of sport, but by incorporating an aesthetic dimension it better reflects the ideal and practice of fairness by athletes, officials, and even institutions.

Article first page

Article first page