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Knowing the Score: How Sport teaches us about Philosophy (and Philosophy about Sport)

David Papineau

2 Reviews

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Prose: non-fiction, Philosophy, Sociology: sport & leisure, Psychology

How philosophy can illuminate sport and what sport can tell us about philosophy...

'A tour de force that provides fresh insight not only into the nature of sport, but cooperation, the mind, altruism, teamwork, leadership, tribalism and ritualism. It's a book that every sports fan should read, and every sports writer should absorb' Matthew Syed

'David Papineau's book is an important contribution to our thinking about sports, society, psychology, and moral philosophy. But it is also much more than that. Gripping from start to finish, it is a terrific read full of humour and good sense. You don't even have to like sports to enjoy it' Ian Buruma

Why do sports competitors choke? How can Roger Federer select which shot to play in 400 milliseconds? Should foreign-born footballers be eligible to play for England? Why do opposing professional cyclists help each other? Why do American and European golfers hate each other? Why does test cricket run in families? Why is punching tolerated in rugby but not in soccer?

These may not look like philosophical questions, but David Papineau shows that under the surface they all raise long-standing philosophical issues. To get to the bottom of these and other sporting puzzles, we need help from metaphysics or ethics, or from the philosophy of mind or political philosophy, as well as numerous other philosophical disciplines.

KNOWING THE SCORE will be an entertaining, fact-filled and erudite book that ranges far and wide through the sporting world. As a prominent philosopher who is also an enthusiastic amateur sportsman and omnivorous sports fan, David Papineau is uniquely well-placed to show how philosophy can illuminate sporting issues. By bringing his philosophical expertise to bear, he will add a new dimension to the way we think about sport.

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Praise for Knowing the Score: How Sport teaches us about Philosophy (and Philosophy about Sport)

  • Philosophy and sports would seem to be as different as chalk and cheese. In fact, as David Papineau demonstrates in Knowing the Score, they complement each other, like macaroni and cheese. In 18 brief, clear, stimulating essays, the author, an accomplished philosopher by trade and an enthusiastic sportsman by avocation, shows how the sports we play and follow illuminate such matters as citizenship, the rule of law, cooperation, tradition, and race and ethnicity - that is, the important and enduring issues of social and political life - Michael Mandelbaum, author of The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Football and Basketball and What They See When They Do

  • This is what happens when a top philosopher with a razor-sharp analytical intelligence, a wicked sense of humour, and a clear-as-gin prose style takes on the world of sports, which he passionately loves both as a player and fan. Reading Papineau is like having the best sports-bar conversation ever. I was awed by his insights when I wasn't laughing at his anecdotes - Jim Holt, author of Why Does the World Exist?

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