The Contest Paradox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper introduces the “Contest Paradox”: on the one hand, rational competitors employ the most effective means to achieve the constitutive end of games - winning; On the other hand, apparently rational competitors often employ means that are sub-optimal for winning, e.g., playing beautifully or fairly. Nevertheless, the actions of such competitors are viewed as rational. Are such competitors rational? I reject the possibility of resolving the paradox by appealing to additional ends or norms to winning, such as playing sportingly. Instead, I argue that the constitutive end of games is not a win simpliciter, but a type of win, such as winning-beautifully or winning-fairly. This interpretive framework is theoretically advantageous because it accounts better for the ‘unity of action’ or ‘flow’ competitors experience, better deals with various cases, and accommodates different traditions of competing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSport, Ethics and Philosophy
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2024


  • Contest
  • Flow
  • interpretation
  • paradox
  • rationality
  • winning

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Philosophy


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