PHIL 196 - First Year Seminar
Fall 2016, Section 001 - Philosophy and Sport
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Course Note:
This course is designed to provide first-year students with an intensive introduction to philosophy in a seminar format. The content varies, depending on the instructor.
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Sport and games are a crucial part of our everyday lives. They also raise many interesting, and difficult, philosophical questions. Here are just a few of them:

  • What marks an activity as a sport (or a game)? What distinguishes one sport from another? E.g., is Major League baseball a different sport from Little League baseball?
  • Why do some rule violations constitute cheating in sport, while others don’t?
  • What’s a performance-enhancing drug (PED)? When should use of PEDS be permitted?
  • What’s an assistive technology? When should use of assistive technologies be permitted (e.g., Oscar Pistorius’ use of prosthetics in the 2012 Summer Olympics)?
  • Should women be allowed to compete in men’s sport (e.g., Michelle Wie in the PGA)? What about men in women’s sport? For that matter, what should determine who counts as a woman in sport, and who counts as a man?
  • Is not paying college athletes a form of unjust exploitation?
  • Is it permissible for spectators to continue watching (and financially supporting) a sport even when there’s evidence that players risk incurring severe long-term damage by participating?

In this course, we will read philosophers and others offering answers to these and related questions. This will familiarize students with central philosophical concepts and distinctions, and introduce them to several areas of philosophy (including ethics, metaphysics, feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, and political philosophy).

The course will also help students develop their careful reading, critical reasoning, and argumentative skills, through written work and intensive discussion. Students will be encouraged to defend their own views on these questions, using the assigned readings as starting points.

Course Requirements:

Students will be assessed on the basis of active participation in class discussion, short argumentative papers, an in-class presentation, and a take-home final exam.

Intended Audience:

This course is intended to serve as an introduction to philosophy. Previous experience in philosophy will not be required or assumed, nor will familiarity with any particular sport.

Class Format:

two 1.5 hour lectures with lots of discussion per week.


PHIL 196 - First Year Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
9/6/16 - 12/13/16
002 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
9/6/16 - 12/13/16

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for PHIL 196.001

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for PHIL 196 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)