Something from Nothing or Nothing from Something? Performance-Enhancing Drugs, Risk, and the Natures of Contest and of Humans

  • M. Andrew HolowchakEmail author
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 52)


In this undertaking, I examine enhanced performance in athletic competitions from an Aretic perspective—a philosophical view of competitive sport, which draws heavily from the virtue-based accounts of Aristotle and of the Stoics. Focusing on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), I analyze potential both for harm done to sport and for harm done to athletes. In the first part, I look at PEDs and their potential for harm to sport, independently of the issue of potential harm to individuals. Examining the nature of sport, I argue that sanction of the use of PEDs would not cause harm to sport. Though their use would seem to give athletes using them something for nothing, there seems to be nothing philosophically objectionable to something for nothing. In the second part, I look at use of PEDs and their potential for harm to individuals. Examining human nature from the Aretic viewpoint I commend, I argue that PEDs ought not to be sanctioned. On the one hand, given our current state of knowledge pertaining to their potential for harm to individuals, they are significantly dangerous. On the other hand, PEDs offer athletes who take them not a something-for-nothing, but a nothing-for-something exchange.


Human Nature Competitive Sport Constitutive Rule Major League Baseball Social Sanction 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRider UniversityLawrencevilleUSA

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