The attractions of Knowing the Score,  David Papineau’s  collection of essays about sports and philosophy, are foreshadowed by the witty cover of its U.S. edition, which reproduces, and riffs on, a detail from Raphael’s School of Athens. It shows Plato and Aristotle, the fresco’s two central figures. Aristotle extends a hand toward the viewer; Plato points an index finger gracefully to the heavens, and on its tip is balanced a spinning basketball.

Papineau is a well-known academic philosopher and an enthusiastic amateur athlete with an ecumenical interest in sports. After agreeing to speak in a run-up conference to the 2012 London Olympics, he became unsatisfied with his attempts at writing a “typical” philosophy of sports lecture, one...

 

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