William Morgan PhD
Professor, joint appointment with the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Room: ASC 324D
Phone: (213) 740-3377
William Morgan received his PhD in 1977 from the University of Minnesota with a major concentration in philosophy. He has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and two major books as well as edited and co-edited several published anthologies. He has also presented numerous scholarly papers to national and international conferences. In 2006 his book, "Why Sports Morally Matter," was runner-up for the best book award from the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport. In 1994 he was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award by the International Association of the Philosophy of Sport, elected as a Fellow to the American Academy of Kinesiology and was one of 10 winners of the Chancellor's Research Award at the University of Tennessee. In 1988 he was awarded a Senior Fulbright Research Award to conduct research at the University of Marburg in what was then West Germany.
Dr. Morgan's major research interests are focused on ethics, critical theory and political theory. Most of his work has been devoted to the study of popular culture, especially contemporary sports and the Olympic Games. He is also currently at work on a number of papers that deal specifically with occupational science.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Philosophy
University of Minnesota
Master of Science (MS) in Philosophy
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Bachelor of Science (BS) in Education
Lock Haven University
The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Sport is a landmark publication in sport studies. It goes further than any book has before in tracing the contours of the discipline of the philosophy of sport and in surveying the core themes, approaches and theories that form its disciplinary fabric. The book explores the ways in which an understanding of philosophy can inform our understanding of important prevailing issues in sport. Edited by two of the most significant figures in the development of the philosophy of sport, Mike McNamee and Bill Morgan, and with contributions from many of the world's leading sport philosophers, this is an invaluable companion reference volume for any course in the social scientific study of sport, and an essential addition to the bookshelf of any serious scholar of the philosophy and/or ethics of sport.
Morgan, W. J. (Ed.) (2007). Ethics in sport (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2006). Why sports morally matter. New York, NY: Routledge Press. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (Ed.) (2001). Ethics in sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Press.
Morgan, W. J., & Meier, K. V. (Eds.) (1995). Philosophic inquiry in sport (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Morgan, W. J. (1994). Leftist theories of sport: A critique and reconstruction. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J., & Meier, K. V. (Eds.) (1987). Philosophic inquiry in sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
W. J. Morgan (Ed.) (1981). Sport and the humanities: A collection of original essays. Knoxville, TN: Bureau of Educational Research and Service, University of Tennessee.
Morgan, W. J. (2015). Conventionalism and sport. In M. McNamee & W. J. Morgan (Eds.), Routledge handbook of the philosophy of sport. (pp. 35-52). New York, NY: Routledge. Link to full text
McNamee, M., & Morgan, W. J. (2015). A historical introduction to the philosophy of sport. In M. McNamee & W. J. Morgan (Eds.), Routledge handbook of the philosophy of sport. (pp. 1-8). New York, NY: Routledge. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2013). Interpretivism, conventionalism, and the ethical coach. In R. L. Simon (Ed.), The ethics of coaching sports: Moral, social, and legal issues. (pp. 61-78). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2012). Agent internalism, practice internalism, and sport. In Morgan, W. J. (Ed.), In praise of harmony: A Festschrift for Robert Osterhoudt. .
Morgan, W. J. (2007). Fair is fair, or is it?: A moral examination of the performance-enhancing drug wars in American sports. In A. J. Schneider & F. Hong (Eds.), Doping in sport [Global ethical issues]. (pp. 1-22). New York, NY: Routledge.
Morgan, W. J. (2007). Preface, Introduction, and Section Introductions. In W. J. Morgan (Ed.), Ethics in sport (2nd ed.). (pp. xi-xxxvii; 1-8; 103-108; 229-234; 299-302; 359-364). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2007). Why the 'view from nowhere' gets us nowhere in our moral considerations of sport. In W. J. Morgan (Ed.), Ethics in sport (2nd ed.). (pp. 85-102). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Link to full text
Hoberman, J., & Morgan, W. J. (2007). Listening to steroids. In W. J. Morgan (Ed.), Ethics in sport (2nd ed.). (pp. 235-244). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2006). Philosophy and physical education. In D. Kirk, D. Macdonald, & M. O'Sullivan (Eds.), Handbook of research in physical education. (pp. 97-108). London, UK: Sage. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2004). Habermas and sport: Social theory from a moral perspective. In R. Giulianotti (Ed.), Sport and modern social theorists. (pp. 173-186). London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2004). Welche ethische Betrachtungsweise eignet sich fur den Sport?. In C. Pawlenka (Ed.), Sportethik: Regeln-FairneB-Doping. (pp. 213-222). Paderborn, Germany: Mentis Verlag.
Morgan, W. J. (2004). How not to solve an ethical problem in sport. In S. Loland & V. Moe (Eds.), Movement/on the move: A Festschrift to Gunnar Brievik on his sixtieth birthday. Norway: Gylendahl.
Morgan, W. J. (2004). Baseball and the search for an American moral identity. In E. Bronson (Ed.), Baseball and philosophy: Thinking outside the batter's box. (pp. 157-168). Chicago, IL: Open Court Press. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2002). Sport in the larger scheme of things. In M. A. Holowchak (Ed.), Philosophy of sport: Critical readings, crucial reasons. (pp. 476-483). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2002). Sports and the making of national identities: A moral view. In M. A. Holowchak (Ed.), Philosophy of sport: Critical readings, crucial reasons. (pp. 494-513). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2001). Patriotic sports and the moral making of nations. In W. J. Morgan (Ed.), Ethics in sport. (pp. 370-392). Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics.
Morgan, W. J. (2000). The philosophy of sport: A historical and conceptual overview and a conjecture regarding its future. In J. Coakley & E. Dunning (Eds.), The handbook of sport studies. (pp. 204-212). London, UK: Sage. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2000). Sports as the moral discourse of nations. In T. Tännsjö & C. Tamburrini (Eds.), Values in sports: Elitism, nationalism, gender equality and the scientific manufacturing of winners. (pp. 59-73). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Morgan, W. J. (2000). The moral permissibility of using drugs in sports. In R. A. Mertzman (Ed.), Voices in sports and society. (pp. 215-216; 232-236). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
Morgan, W. J. (2000). Change and its discontents. In R. Wisniewski (Ed.), Reforming a college: The University of Tennessee story. (pp. 103-112). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishers.
Morgan, W. J. (1998). Hassiba Boulmerka and Islamic green: International sports, cultural differences, and their postmodern interpretation. In G. Rail (Ed.), Sport and postmodern times. (pp. 345-365). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1998). Multinational sport and literary practices and their communities: The moral salience of cultural narratives. In M. J. McNamee & S. J. Parry (Eds.), Ethics and sport. (pp. 184-204). London, UK: EFN Spon Publishers.
Morgan, W. J. (1997). Philosophy of sport. In D. Levinson & K. Christensen (Eds.), Encyclopedia of world sport: From ancient times to the present. (pp. 740-742). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO Press.
Morgan, W. J. (1995). The logical incompatibility thesis and rules: A reconsideration of formalism as an account of games. In W. J. Morgan & K. V. Meier (Eds.), Philosophic inquiry in sport (2nd ed.). (pp. 50-63). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Morgan, W. J. (1995). Introductions and Summaries. In W. J. Morgan & K. V. Meier (Eds.), Philosophic inquiry in sport (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Morgan, W. J. (1993). An existential phenomenological analysis of sport as a religious experience. In C. S. Prebish (Ed.), Religion and sport: The meeting of sacred and profane. (pp. 119-149). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1987). Play, utopia, and dystopia: A prologue to a ludic theory of the state. In W. J. Morgan & K. V. Meier (Eds.), Philosophic inquiry in sport. (pp. 419-430). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
Morgan, W. J., & Meier, K. V. (1987). Introductions and Bibliographies. In W. J. Morgan & K. V. Meier (Eds.), Philosophic inquiry in sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
Morgan, W. J. (1981). Olympism and sporting life: A socio-cultural critique. In J. Seagrave & D. Chu (Eds.), Olympism. (pp. 333-346). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
Morgan, W. J. (1980). Play and technology: Some preliminary musings. In Morgan, W. J. (Ed.), Sport and the humanities: A collection of original essays. (pp. 28-30). Knoxville, TN: Bureau of Educational Research and Service, University of Tennessee.
Morgan, W. J. (1979). Some Aristotelian notes on the attempt to define sport. In E. W. Gerber and W. J. Morgan (Eds.), Sport and the body: A philosophical symposium. (pp. 53-68). Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger.
Morgan, W. J. (1979). An analysis of the futural modality of sport. In E. W. Gerber & W. J. Morgan (Eds.), Sport and the body: A philosophical symposium. (pp. 108-117). Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger.
Morgan, W. J. (1973). An existential phenomenological analysis of sport as a religious experience. In R. G. Osterhoudt (Ed.), The philosophy of sport: A collection of original essays. (pp. 78-107). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Bob Simon has made many wonderful contributions to the philosophy of sport literature. To my mind, however, at the top of that impressive list is his development of the normative theory of sport he called broad internalism or simply interpretivism. The important advance his theory made was showing how we can rely on general principles of athletic conduct to guide our actions in sport in those hard normative cases when the rules fail us, that is when there is no applicable rule to appeal to, or the rules prove to be indeterminate or contradictory, or when the rules give us the wrong sort of guidance. This is an impressive accomplishment, to say the least, and one those of us who work in this normative domain owe Simon a great debt. However, in this paper, I want to explore a different set of hard normative cases in which conflicting conceptions of the point and purpose of sport raise normative quandaries that are not solvable either by appealing to the rules or the general principles of athletic excellence that Simon champions. My aim in pursuing this critical line is not to discredit broad internalism, but rather to nudge it in a more historicist direction that can better handle the kinds of normative dilemmas that crop up when we are not of one mind as to what is the aim of athletic striving.
I argue that several recent criticisms Lopez Frias has made against my conventionalist version of broad internalism fail to hit their mark. I further argue that the author's use of Habermas's account of discourse ethics to make his criticisms also misfires because Habermas expressly warned against using his account to resolve normative conflicts that arise from the often conflicting ways different communities order their ethical lives, to include their athletic lives. My main aim in responding to Lopez Frias was to bring critical attention to the normative difficulties that result when we cannot agree on how sport should be done because we cannot agree on what is/are the purpose(s) of sport.
The purpose of this paper is to provide a response to Harrison's (2012) work. The author highlights the positives associated with many of the academic reform efforts Harrison highlights (i.e., the good); addresses concerns about academic clustering, rewarding teams performing at high academic levels, and athletic administrators' resistance to upset the status quo (i.e., the problematic); and the strong association between efforts for academic reform and large revenue streams found in men's basketball and football (i.e., the truly worrisome). Recommendations and conclusions are advanced.
Morgan, W. J. (2012). Broad internalism, deep conventions, moral entrepreneurs, and sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 39, 65-100. doi:10.1080/00948705.2012.675069. Link to full text Abstract →
My argument will proceed as follows. I will first sketch out the broad internalist case for pitching its normative account of sport in the abstract manner that following Dworkin’s lead in the philosophy of law its adherents insist upon. I will next show that the normative deficiencies in social conventions broad internalists uncover are indeed telling but misplaced since they hold only for what David Lewis famously called ‘coordinating’ conventions. I will then distinguish coordinating conventions from deep ones and make my case not only for the normative salience of deep conventions but for their normative superiority over the abstract normative principles broad internalists champion.
Morgan, W. J. (2011). In praise of athletic and cultural mongrelization. Quest, 63, 152-157. doi:10.1080/00336297.2011.10483673. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2010). Bullshitters, markets, and the privatization of public discourse about sports. American Behavioral Scientist, 53, 1574-1589. doi:10.1177/0002764210368086. Link to full text Abstract →
Harry Frankfurt’s best-selling book, On Bullshit, asks why there is so much bullshit today in Western cultures, such as the United States. The scope of Frankfurt’s charge is deliberately broad; he claims that public discourse about just any topic of consequence in American culture is filled with such unseemly speech and writing. The same can be said, the author of this article claims, about public discourse about sport. The author argues that one especially important reason sports discourse is rife with bullshit today is because it is the language and logic of the market that shapes how most people see, understand, and interpret sports. That money does most of the talking in market societies such as the United States is, of course, old news. What is not exactly old news, however, is that the language of the market is not only insufficiently nuanced to capture and express what it is that people find compelling about subjects such as sports, but it is wholly unsuited for such communicative purposes.
Morgan, W. J. (2009). Athletic perfection, performance-enhancing drugs, and the treatment-enhancement distinction. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 36, 162-181. doi:10.1080/00948705.2009.9714755. Link to full text Abstract →
An essay is presented on the treatment distinction of performance-enhancement drugs (PEDs). It discusses that essentialists insist that sports must be regulated through athletic ideals which appeal to their intrinsic features and influence individual against PEDs since it morally conflict with their ideals. Moreover, the author wants to pursue Michael Lavin's earlier suggestions to seek democratic justification on athletic ideals.
The article examines the thoughts of philosopher Bernard Suits on the role of play in human life, with special attention paid to Suit's book "The Grasshopper." Suits' contention that there is a distinct difference between play in general and the playing of organized games and sports is defended. Suits defined play quite broadly to include almost all pleasurable activities, citing food as an example. Humans must eat to live, but humans also take deep pleasure in preparing, tasting, and consuming food -- a pleasure Suits considered play in its pure form. Games and sports are seen as separating play from everyday life, allowing it to be seen in its purest form.
I find Bob Simon’s essay “Does Athletics Undermine Academics?” completely persuasive as far as it goes. I want, however, to push his argument further by disentangling two questions that run through his analysis and that when more sharply played off against one another paint a less-than-rosy picture of certain intercollegiate sports at the Division I level. The first question is whether there is a morally and educationally defensible conception of intercollegiate sports. The second, in some ways more pointed, question is whether the reigning conception and practice of intercollegiate sports is morally and educationally defensible. Simon provided a compelling and powerful affirmative response to the first question, arguing that when sports at this level are played in the particular way that he sketches out in his article, they not only do not conflict with the academic values of colleges and universities but reinforce those values. He dubbed this claim, aptly enough, the mutual reinforcement thesis (MRT). Simon’s answer to the second question is more cautious and measured but generally encouraging. It is cautious because it rightly warns us against making overbroad and hasty generalizations about intercollegiate sports given the many different forms in which they come. It is measured because it rejects the bald claim that all is well with intercollegiate sports, when clearly that is not so, but nonetheless, stoutly insists that things are not nearly as bleak in this regard as many critics would have us believe.
In this essay I argue that sports at their best qualify as final ends, that is, as ends whose value is such that they ground not only the practices whose ends they are, but everything else we do as human agents. The argument I provide to support my thesis is derived from Harry Frankfurt's provocative work on the importance of the things we care about, more specifically, on his claim that it is by virtue of caring about things and practices, really caring about them — even loving them — we are able to regard and treat them as final ends. Sports, I claim, are paradigmatic examples of practices cared about and loved in these deep ways, and as such deserve to be considered, rather than dismissed because of their supposed triviality, as one of those ends around which a life most worth living can be legitimately forged.
Morgan, W. J. (2006). Fair is fair, or is it?: A moral consideration of the doping wars in American sport. Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, 9, 177-198. doi:10.1080/17430430500491256. Link to full text Abstract →
I argue that the recent major shift in anti-doping strategy by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which cracks down on athletes who dope by, among other things, trying to build criminal cases against them and by lowering the standard of evidence required to convict dopers from 'beyond a reasonable doubt' to 'comfortable satisfaction', is morally problematic because it treats athletes unfairly. That is not to say that the efforts of USADA to curb doping in sport is itself unjustified, for athletes who dope do indeed violate the principle of fair play - a principle vital to the integrity of all sport. Rather, my argument is that the new anti-doping measures pursued by these athletic agencies go too far and are themselves unfair in the classical sense that they treat similar cases in a dissimilar way.
The article presents an antirealist moral account of sport and shows that such an account is rationally and normatively superior to its realist moral rival. It can be debated through four views. Formalism argues that sport should be assessed by the governing rules. Conventionalism claims that sports should be judged by the views of the practice community. Subjectivism holds that judgments about sport should take theft cue from the individual desires and aims of its participants as they vie with one another to define the contest in ways that privilege their particular talents and skills. Broad internalism or interpretivism argues that sport should be evaluated by reference to rational principles regarding the nature and purpose of sport.
Sports at all levels have been racked by one moral controversy after another. It is almost a truism that socialization into sports nowadays has as much to do with becoming adept at breaking and bending rules, not to mention other forms of cheating and violence, as it does with the furtherance of athletic excellence. Surprisingly, although critical social theorists of sports have had plenty to say about these and other shortcomings of contemporary sports, little of what they say touches on their specifically moral character. Habermas’s critical theory of society is a notable exception, claiming, as it does, that if one wants to understand contemporary social practices such as sports, one cannot turn their back on the moral ideals and values that drive them. The author puts Habermas’s theory to the test here, examining how successful it is in shedding light on the moral dilemmas that presently plague sports.
Morgan, W. J. (2000). Are sports more so private or public practices? A critical look at some recent Rortian interpretations of sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 27, 17-34. doi:10.1080/00948705.2000.9714587. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1999). Patriotic sports and the moral making of nations. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 26, 50-67. doi:10.1080/00948705.1999.9714578. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1998). Ethnocentrism and the social criticism of sports: A response to Roberts. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 25, 82-102. doi:10.1080/00948705.1998.9714571. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1997). Sports and the making of national identities: A moral view. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 24, 1-20. doi:10.1080/00948705.1997.9714536. Link to full text
I take up Ingham's and Beamish's three main criticisms of my previous critique of hegemony theory— that it is "distorted" because it ignores that hegemony both sets limits and opens up possibilities, that it overlooks Williams' point that hegemony "is never total or exclusive," and that it falsely claims that Williams opted for an all-inclusive, material base to replace the classical Marxist base superstructure paradigm and argue that they all miss the mark. I thus conclude by reaffirming my major thesis that hegemony sport theory is best regarded as a theory of social containment rather than social transformation because it has no intelligible way of explaining major shifts of dominance, that is, of accounting for the transference of dominance from one group to another.
Morgan, W. J. (1996). Circular theories, ‘strong evaluation,’ and sports: A response to Booth. Sporting Traditions, 12(2), 115-123.
Morgan, W. J. (1995). Cosmopolitanism, Olympism, and nationalism: A critical interpretation of Coubertin's ideal of international sporting life. Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies, 4, 79-92. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1995). 'Incredulity toward metanarratives' and normative suicide: A critique of postmodernist drift in critical sport theory. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 30, 25-44. doi:10.1177/101269029503000102. Link to full text Abstract →
I argue here against the increasing preoccupation with postmodern motifs evident in contemporary critical treatments of sport. My main gripe with the incorporation of these postmodern themes into critical analyses of sport has to do with their signature attempt to displace normative evaluation and argumentation in favor of the partisan championing of the beliefs of select "marginalized" social groups. I argue that it is this hostility to reason- giving and rational accountability that gets postmodern theorists of sport into trouble, and that jeopardizes the social criticism of sport.
Morgan, W. J. (1994). Hegemony theory, social domination, and sport: The MacAloon and Hargreaves-Tomlinson debate revisited [Comment]. Sociology of Sport Journal, 11, 309-329. Link to full text Abstract →
I reexamine some of the contentious issues that frame the debate between MacAloon, who champions an American anthropological approach to the study of sport, and Hargreaves and Tomlinson, who favor a British cultural studies approach to the study of sport. Specifically, I take up Hargreaves and Tomlinson's central charge that MacAloon's critical account of British cultural studies, especially its hegemonist wing, is to be dismissed as a one-sided, "staggering misrepresentation." I argue that while MacAloon misinterprets certain features of this hegemonist writing on sport, his main criticisms of British hegemony sport theory are telling ones that repay closer study.
In this paper, amateurism and professionalism are treated as moral images, that is, as moral ideals whose point is to enliven and enrich our involvement in sport. Treating them as such enables one to assess their moral fitness as models of sporting conduct, an assessment made imperative by the apparent demise of the amateur ideal and the triumph of the professional ideal. That assessment is made more urgent because the eclipse of amateur sport by professional sport is a morally problematic development: While athletes are entitled to make a living off their athletic accomplishments, they are not entitled to turn sport into a commercial exploit, because doing so compromises and imperils the central goods that underpin and galvanize sport's practice.
Morgan, W. J. (1993). Work, play, and utopia: Marx's realms of necessity and freedom revisited. Journal of Play Theory and Research, 1(2), 117-140. Abstract →
Drawing on the works of Habermas (1989) and Karl Marx (1864), the article looks at capitalist modernist and postmodernist theories of play in relation to the realms of freedom and necessity, the meaning of life and utopia. It is argued that, with Marx, the family of social practices that belong to the realm of freedom and that claim play as their wellspring provides the modern age with its best hope for a better life, and offers the best clue as to what such an earthly utopia might look like. It is also argued that this utopian project is itself rooted in our modern historical experience and that we possess the technical know-how to make it a material reality. Habermas and other critics of capitalist modernity consider this approach to be one-sided and adopt a different interpretation of play and utopia which they claim is more rational. The different interpretations are explained and compared.
Morgan, W. J. (1991). Lasch on sport and the culture of narcissism: A critical reappraisal. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 18, 1-23. doi:10.1080/00948705.1991.9714482. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1989). The impurity of reason: A reflection on the social critique of the philosophy of sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 15, 69-90. doi:10.1080/00948705.1988.9714462. Link to full text
As Adorno once observed, "...if one were to summarize the most important trends of present-day culture, one could hardly find a more pregnant category than that of sports." Yet it is this very category of mass culture that Adorno has been severely criticized for either ignoring altogether, or treating in an offhand, cavalier manner. In particular, Adorno has been reproached for glossing over the emancipatory potential of the popular sports and leisure pursuits of mass culture, and for producing hyper-critical doctrines of the body and of modern sport based on Fascist political paradigms. Even more sympathetic critics of Adorno have charged that the only limits to reification he recognized were located at the level of the human subject, and that he never considered "...whether perhaps there are also limits to the reification of the cultural commodities themselves," to include presumably sport and leisure.
I argue, however, that each of these criticisms miss their mark, and count more as caricatures of Adorno's position than as so-called domain assumptions of his "tacit orthodoxy." More specifically, I argue that a careful perusal of Adorno's writings on sport, to include the relatively recent publication of his important Freizeit essay, reveals that he had a rich, but admittedly complicated, theory of sport, which did much to expose the limits of the reification of cultural commodities such as sport and leisure. I argue further that Adorno's theory of sport constitutes an important part of his larger theory of mass culture, and suggests a re-reading of the critical force of that theory as well as the delicate relation it suggests between mass and high culture. But, alas, I finally conclude that Adorno's theory of sport ultimately breaks down because of his insistence on treating it as yet another instance of his notion of the Kraftfeld (force-field).
Morgan, W. J. (1987). The logical incompatibility thesis and rules: A reconsideration of formalism as an account of games. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 14, 1-20. doi:10.1080/00948705.1987.9714447. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1986). Chance, skill, and sport: A critical comment [Review of the article In praise of chance: A philosophical analysis of the element of chance in sports, by F. De Wachter]. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 12, 62-63. doi:10.1080/00948705.1985.9714429. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1986). Labor, sport, and critical Theory: A response to Beamish [Comment]. Sociology of Sport Journal, 3, 68-81. Link to full text
The social theory of sport literature has taken a new and welcome critical turn in the last few years. That turn is revealed in the emergence of a Marxist-based corpus of literature which challenges headlong the fundamental tenets of mainstream (functionalist) sport sociology. The purpose of the present paper is to critically respond to this new critical theory of sport; in particular to its two major versions-what I call, respectively, vulgar Marxist, and hegemonic sport theory. I argue that both versions of this theory are conceptually flawed, and that these conceptual flaws are themselves ideologically grounded. The point of my criticisms, however, is not to undermine or otherwise deflect the critical thrust of this theory, but to suggest that that thrust requires a new conceptual scaffolding which is more sensitive to the ideological temperament of advanced capitalist society.
Morgan, W. J. (1983). Social philosophy of sport: A critical interpretation. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 10, 33-51. doi:10.1080/00948705.1983.9714399. Link to full text
A single, dominant ideology informs both bourgeois and socialist theories of contemporary sport. The gist of this ideology, I argue, is that sport is essentially an instrument of the social order whose central function is to further the economic and political interests of the various nation-states. I restrict my critical attention here to the New Left's perpetuation of this reductionist ideology. My intent in doing so, however, is not to discredit Neo-Marxist sport theory. On the contrary, what I attempt to show is that the New Left's recent advocacy of this ideology vitiates the major tenets of Neo-Marxist thought. My criticism is geared, then, to a resuscitation of the genuine critical thread underlying Neo-Marxist theory. I thus conclude that Neo-Marxist theory, free of ideological distortions, represents one of the most promising critical approaches to understanding the complexities and subtleties of modern sport.
Morgan, W. J. (1982). Play, utopia and dystopia: Prologue to a Ludic theory of the state. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 9, 30-42. doi:10.1080/00948705.1982.9714385. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1978). The lived time dimensions of sportive training. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 5, 11-26. doi:10.1080/00948705.1978.10654137. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1978). Preliminary discourse concerning sport and time. Journal of Sport Behavior, 1, 139-146. Abstract →
Examines the need to change our ordinary understanding of time to one which is specific to sport. To support this claim, an analysis of the relationship between the time in which all material things and mental states have their definite temporal positions which can be measured by chronometers and sport was conducted. Suggests that time and sport be considered on a more fundamental scale entitled subjective time.
Morgan, W. J. (1977). The role and significance of the philosophy of sport in the physical education curriculum. Minnesota Journal for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 6, 25-27.
Morgan, W. J. (1977). Some Aristotelian notes on the attempt to define sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 4, 15-35. doi:10.1080/00948705.1977.10654125. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1976). An analysis of the Sartrean ethic of ambiguity as the moral ground for the conduct of sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 3, 82-96. doi:10.1080/00948705.1976.10654116. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1976). An analysis of the 'futural' modality of sport. Man and World: An International Philosophical Review, 9, 418-434. doi:10.1007/BF01249007. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1976). On the path towards an ontology of sport. Journal of Philosophy of Sport, 3, 23-34. doi:10.1080/00948705.1976.10654111. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2002). Patriotism revisited. The Philosopher’s Magazine, 17, 49-50. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2008). Liars, bullshitters, and the privitization of public discourse about sports. In WCP 2008 Proceedings [Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy]. 11-17. doi:10.5840/wcp22200847215. Abstract →
The question I want to pursue here is one that I have lifted from Harry Frankfurt’s recent surprising best-selling book, On Bullshit, in which he asks why there is so much bullshit today in Western cultures like the U. S. The scope of Frankfurt’s charge was deliberately broad. It’s not just that people bullshit about how much money they make or how important their jobs are, but that public discourse about just any topic of consequence in American culture is filled with, one is even tempted to say consists of, such unseemly speech. Such is the case, I want to claim here, about public discourse about sport in the print and visual media, in everyday life, and even, as I will shortly comment upon, in so-called academic and civic forums. So I don’t think it is a stretch at all, nor do I believe Frankfurt would regard it as such, to include sport among the topics about which bullshit abounds. He might, however, quibble with my claim that the preponderance of bullshit in and outside of sport circles has mainly to do with the incursion of the market into most of the social practices that people hold dear in our culture. This despite the fact that Frankfurt does recognize that one primary reason why bullshit dominates so much of our contemporary discourse is that people are frequently called upon to speak about things that exceed their grasp, their knowledge of the subject. What he seems not to appreciate in this regard, however, is that one especially important reason why people’s grasp of what they say and do leaves much to be desired is because more often than not it is market actors that are doing all the talking here, whether the topic be sports, or politics, or even science. And the reason they are doing all the talking is the same reason they are mostly responsible for what actually goes on in these disparate spheres, namely, they hold and control the purse strings. So I’m persuaded, more than Frankfurt apparently is, that it is because the money-changers dominate sports, as I have insinuated they dominate most everything else, that what gets said in and about sports is mostly bullshit. Convincing you that I’m right about this will be my aim today, and that’s no bullshit, I think.
Morgan, W. J. (1994). Coubertin's theory of Olympic internationalism: A critical reinterpretation. In Critical reflections on Olympic ideology (R. K. Barney & K. V. Meier, Eds.). Paper presented at the Second International Symposium for Olympic Research, London (ON), Canada (pp. 10-25). London (ON), Canada: Centre for Olympic Studies, University of Western Ontario.
Morgan, W. J. (1993). Can a liberal theory of sport be a critical one?. In Die aktualität der sportphilosophie (The relevance of the philosophy of sport) (G. Gebauer, Ed.). Paper presented at the Philosophic Society for the Study of Sport, Berlin (pp. 63-87). Sankt Augustine, Germany: Academic Verlag. Link to full text Abstract →
The volume contains the lectures of the meeting of the "Philosophic Society for the Study of Sport" in Berlin in 1992. He documented many reactions of sports philosophy on the profound changes in the sport, have occurred in recent decades. Few areas of symbolic actions so clearly shows the characteristics of our time like the present sport. , the main problem areas: the cultural dimension of games and sports, ethics of sport, rules and control, improvement of man, the sports field as a pedagogical strategies. 17 authors from 9 countries give philosophical interpretations, analysis and problem-conceived views of a changing sport. Contributions are written in English or German language.
Morgan, W. J. (1990). Thinking along with Rorty about disciplines as cultural traditions. In New possibilities, new paradigms: American Academy of Physical Education papers (R. J. Park & H. M. Eckert, Eds.). Paper presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Physical Education, New Orleans, LA (pp. 130-137). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Morgan, W. J. (1982). On sponsorship and rights in sport. In Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Philosophic Society for the Study of Sport Symposium. (pp. 35-38). Buffalo, NY.
Morgan, W. J. (2012). [Review of the book All things shining: Reading the Western classics to find meaning in a secular age, by H. Dreyfus & S. Kelly]. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 39, 325-331. doi:10.1080/00948705.2012.725906. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2010). [Review of the book Sport as a form of human fulfillment: An organic philosophy of sport history, by R. G. Osterhoudt]. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 37, 126-129. doi:10.1080/00948705.2010.9714771. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2008). [Review of the book The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the age of genetic engineering, by M. J. Sandel]. Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, 1, 284-288. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2006). [Review of the book Genetic technology and sport, edited by C. Tamburrini & T. Tännsjö]. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 33, 215-217. doi:10.1080/00948705.2006.9714703. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2002). [Review of the book Fair play in sport: A moral norm system, edited by S. Loland]. Sport, Education and Society, 7, 231-233. doi:10.1080/1357332022000018878. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2002). [Review of the book Globalization and sport: Playing the world, by T. Miller, G. Lawrence, J. McKay, & D. Rowe]. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 5, 122-125. doi:10.1177/13675494020050010608. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (2000). [Review of the book On nationality, by D. Miller]. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 78, 294-296. doi:10.1080/00048400012349581. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1992). [Review of the book Mortal engines: The science of performance and the dehumanization of sport, by J. M. Hoberman]. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 19, 101-106. doi:10.1080/00948705.1992.9714498. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1991). [Review of the book The philosophy of sport: An overview, by R. G. Osterhoudt]. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 18, 86-89. doi:10.1080/00948705.1991.9714488. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1990). [Review of the book Popular cultures and political practices, edited by R. Gruneau]. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 17, 51-63. doi:10.1080/00948705.1990.9714478. Link to full text
Morgan, W. J. (1982). [Review of the book Sport and work, by B. Rigauer translated by A. Guttmann]. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 9, 78-83. doi:10.1080/00948705.1982.9714390. Link to full text