The Playing Fields of Eton: Equality and Excellence in Modern Meritocracy

Author(s): Mika LaVaque-Manty

The Playing Fields of Eton


In The Playing Fields of Eton, Mika LaVaque-Manty addresses questions that have troubled philosophers, reformers, and thoughtful citizens for more than two centuries. Drawing upon examples from the eighteenth-century debate over dueling as a gentleman's prerogative to recent controversies over athletes' use of performance-enhancing drugs, LaVaque-Manty shows that societies have repeatedly redefined equality and excellence. One constant remains, however: sports provide an arena for working out tensions between these two ideals.

Just as in sports where athletes are sorted by age, sex, and professional status, in modern democratic society excellence has meaning only in the context of comparisons among individuals who are, theoretically, equals. LaVaque-Manty's argument will engage philosophers, and his inviting prose and use of familiar illustrations will welcome non-philosophers to join the conversation (University of Michigan Press). 

Publication Information:

Publisher: University of Michigan Press

Year of Publication: 2009