Last updated on: 12/29/2008 | Author:

Nicholas J. Dixon, PhD Biography

Chair and Dykstra Professor of Philosophy at Alma College
Con to the question "Should Performance-Enhancing Drugs Be Accepted in Sports?"

“Paternalistic arguments do not justify maintaining the ban on PEDs [performance enhancing drugs]. The dangers that underlie these paternalistic concerns, though, would deter many good athletes from pursuing sport once they realize that using PEDs is a sine qua non of success at the elite level. Preventing the harm to sport that this loss would cause is a good reason for continuing to ban these substances.

The athletic meritocracy argument also provides good reason for maintaining the ban on PEDs. In the current world of sport, PEDs make athletic success dependent on such arbitrary factors as access to effective pharmaceuticals and favorable physiological response to these drugs, neither of which is relevant to athletic excellence. The existence of other unfair determinants of athletic success especially genetic differences does not diminish the unfairness of the equalities that PEDs cause.

Even if we could eliminate the inequalities that PEDs currently create, most commonly used PEDs would still violate athletic meritocracy, because they reward factors that are extrinsic to the core elements of athletic excellence. This difference in degree between PEDs and, in contrast, widely accepted performance enhancers also supports a modest utilitarian argument for the ban, based on the likelihood that public interest in sport would diminish in the event of allowing unlimited use of PEDs.”

“Performance-Enhancing Drugs, Paternalism, Meritocracy, and Harm to Sport,” Journal of Social Philosophy, Summer 2008

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Wesley and Elma Dykstra Professor of Philosophy, Alma College, 2001-present
  • Chair, Department of Philosophy, Alma College, 1990-present
  • Recipient, Outstanding Faculty Award, Alma College, 2004, 2007
  • Editor, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 2002-2006
  • Professor, Alma College, 2000-2001
  • Associate Professor, Alma College, 1992-2000
  • Recipient, Faculty Barlow Award, Alma College, 1997
  • Assistant Professor, Alma College, 1986-1992
  • Assistant Professor, Central Michigan University, 1985-1986
  • Instructor, Central Michigan University, 1982-1985
  • Graduate Assistant, Michigan State University
  • Member, International Association for the Philosophy of Sport
  • Member, Canadian Philosophical Association
  • Member, American Philosophical Association
  • PhD, Philosophy, Michigan State University, 1985
  • MA, Philosophy, Michigan State University, 1981
  • BA, Philosophy, University of Leeds, England, 1978
  • None found