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Stuart Broad, the spirit of cricket and ethics in sport

Anyone who thinks Test cricket is dead wasn’t following the events at Trent Bridge over the last five days. The first of ten Ashes Tests spread over two series was so outrageously unpredictable that if it had been proposed as a screenplay, it would have been rejected as too implausible and lacking in direction. But that’s exactly why I love sport.

Now that the match is over and my pulse has returned to something approaching a normal level, I hope it’s possible to examine the controversial events of Friday evening calmly and dispassionately. For the benefit of anyone who wasn’t following the match or just doesn’t care about cricket, England’s Stuart Broad nicked a ball and was caught, via the wicket keeper’s gloves, at slip. Out. His innings was over. But he didn’t walk, and the umpire, for reasons best known to himself, didn’t give him out. Australia were furious, but Broad batted on, adding sufficient runs to make the difference between the teams at the end of the match. Read More…

Utilitarian Yahweh wants to harvest your soul

Picture the scene: a number of young and otherwise healthy people are dying due to the failure of a single organ, a different one in each case, and no organs are available for transplants. An enterprising doctor suggests killing the next healthy person to walk through the door, and harvesting their organs. It’s an outrageous suggestion, but it would take one life to save many. Isn’t that a good deal?

RailwayThis is the sort of thinking that’s usually being attacked when people criticise utilitarianism, and no one but the odd provocative philosopher or fifth-form debater ever seriously proposes it, but it’s hard to explain why it’s a bad thing. Wars are conducted on very similar ethical grounds, for example, with death accepted for the greater good. It’s not just consent – civilians don’t consent to be “collateral damage” either – but the obvious difference is that the death in this case  is obvious and necessary, not just something that may happen. Read More…

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