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Philosophical Inquiry

Volume 43, Issue 3/4, Summer/Fall 2019

Mika Hämäläinen
Pages 77-86
DOI: 10.5840/philinquiry2019433/421

Fairness as Successful Competition

In this paper, I introduce a novel view of fairness: I explain fair sport competition through the notion of successful competition. I begin by analysing successful competition. I propose that competitions can be successful, both internally and externally. Internally successful competition is connected to the internal purpose of competition and has two senses: narrow and wide. Competition was internally successful in the narrow sense if three criteria of ‘betterness’ – official result, ideally adjudicated result, and display of athletic skills – were congruous in that competition. Competition was internally successful in the wide sense if the three aforementioned criteria of betterness were congruous and the competition also embodied ‘sweet tension of uncertainty of outcome’. Externally successful competition is connected to the external purposes of competition. Financial gain is an example of an external purpose. I argue that competition was fair if it was internally successful in the narrow sense, that is, if the three criteria of betterness were congruous in the competition.