Outliers, Freaks, and Cheats: Constituting Normality in the Age of Enhancement

  • Darian MeachamEmail author
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 52)


This chapter argues that uneasiness about enhancement in sport is linked to a sense of the normal that is inherent to perceptual experience itself. Using Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology, I argue that normality is a structural component of our experience of the world and most significantly, others in the world. Nonetheless, what the normal is, its actual content, is a matter of historical contingency that is developed over time in social relations with others. On the basis of the phenomenological conception of normality, I argue that the possibility of sharing a world of common projects and goals with others is dependent on perceiving them as normal in the relevant sense. Normality, in this case, is based on the possibility of strong empathic relations with another: being able to imagine the structure and flow of another’s experiences as my own. On the grounds of this analysis, I argue that while some enhancements may stretch the ties of empathy, it is difficult to imagine them being broken completely. The concepts of normality and empathy ground what I call a phenomenological species concept that may exceed the boundaries of a biological species definition. I argue that it is the phenomenological species concept and not the biological one which holds ethical significance. Following from this, I hold that ethical arguments that appeal to the unity of the biological species as having an ethical significance are unfounded.


Athletic Performance Ideal Norm Moral Community Aesthetic Experience Aesthetic Appreciation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Arts, Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and EducationUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUK

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