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A Key Moral Issue: Should Boxing be Banned?

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This essay focuses on the main arguments in favour of a legal ban on boxing: (i) the argument from health risk; (ii) the argument from intentional harm; (iii) the argument from violence; and (iv) the argument from social responsibility. These arguments are not as strong as those in favour of a ban like to think and neither individually nor collectively establish the moral case against boxing. The practical implications of a ban are also considered: it is not clear that a ban would produce a better state of affairs as a ban may well force the sport underground where the medical controls would be non-existent, the consequences being much higher health risks to boxers than if boxing had remained legal. The article concludes that the best way forward is reform rather than an outright ban. Two reforms are suggested: direct punches to the head should be forbidden; and a boxer's knowledge of the health risks should be tested by a written examination.
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Keywords: Boxing; Health and Safety; Morality; Social Responsibility; Violence

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-03-01

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