Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cheating, throwing a match and perversion

To pervert a social practice is to engage in it while subverting a defining end. Sports and other games are social practices one of whose internal ends is score (which generalizes victory). To throw a match is, thus, a form of perversion: it subverts the defining end of score.

Interestingly, cheating is actually a case of throwing a match. To score one must follow the rules. Thus cheaters don't win: they at most appear to. Their cheating subverts score, a defining end of the game. Cheating is, thus, a form of perversion.

The difference between the cheat and the paradigm case of throwing a match is that the cheat seeks to make it look like he did well at the game while the ordinary thrower of a match doesn't.


SMatthewStolte said...

Suppose that football teams A and B are playing in the last week of NFL regular season. According to the rules (and given all of the team records up to that point) A needs to win in order to get the wildcard slot. If A loses, A cannot play in the playoffs. So A cheats to appear to score but no one notices. As a result, A appears to win, and subsequently plays C during the week scheduled for the wildcard match. But if A did not win (by cheating) but simply did not win, then it seems that the wildcard game is never actually played. Now suppose A loses the game to C and C loses the next round of (what nearly everyone else thinks is) the playoffs, so that some other team (say, team E) appears to win the Super Bowl. Given that each non-first round of the playoffs depends on the first round of the playoffs actually having been played, it would follow that no Super Bowl at all was played that year.

But this does not seem right. It seems that the social practice of sports allows for the metaphysical possibility of winning-by-cheating, while also allowing that certain authorities can make a declaration that ‘takes the win away’, if the cheating is discovered.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Maybe. If so, then we can understand the scoring system as containing an honest victory and a cheated victory. Either one lets A get the wildcard slot. But the cheated victory has a negative valence as a score.

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

What if A didn't cheat and B won. How would the game with C for the wildcard match turn out then? And if B would have won against C, how would the playoffs have gone. Can we say that B was cheated out the Super Bowl? Would E then be the Super Bowl winner. Then again in football anything can happen. Time to check the air pressure in the ball.

The difference between throwing a game and cheating is throwing a game requires a financial incentive for the thrower, where as cheating does not. Cheating is more of a win at any cost endeavor and involves pride. Throwing vs. cheating is therefore, I think akin to greed vs. pride.

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

By the way, how is that game going with Oklahoma State? We beat Penn State! Hail to the Victors!!