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The Game Game

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 February 2009

Mary Midgley
Affiliation:
University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Extract

Some time ago, an Innocent Bystander, after glancing through a copy of Mind, asked me, ‘Why do philosophers talk so much about Games? Do they play them a lot or something?’

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Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 1974

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References

1 Revue Internationale de Philosophie, no. 70 (1964)Google Scholar. Reprinted in Theories of Ethics, ed. Foot, P., O.U.P., 1967Google Scholar. I shall call it henceforth PG, with pages as in Theories of Ethics. My objections obviously extend to the rather more subtle uses of ‘game’ by writers like Winch, and in part also to Phillips and Mounce's notion of a ‘Moral Practice’.

2 See the closing pages of Searle's ‘How to Derive Ought from Is’ for the assimilation of Marriage and Property to Promising. Hare seems to accept this (Philosophical Review, 73 (1964)Google Scholar, Theories of Ethics, p. 112).Google Scholar

3 Philosophical Investigations, §67.

4 ‘Universals and Family Resemblances’, PAS, LXI (19601961).Google Scholar

5 See, e.g. Bell, Clive: ‘I have no right to consider anything a work of art to which I cannot react emotionally…. Before the late noon of the Renaissance, Art was almost extinct’Google Scholar (Art, pp. 18 and 36Google Scholar); Collingwood: ‘Palaeolithic paintings are not works of art, however much they may resemble them; the resemblance is superficial; what matters is the purpose, and the purpose is different’ (Principles of Art, p. 10).Google Scholar

6 I assume throughout that Hare is not making the trivial verbal point that the word ‘promise’, might be changed, but is talking about the general practice of promising, however carried on. The Promising Game, in fact, extends into the Undertaking Business.

7 Cf. Phillips and Mounce's similar (though converse) suggestion, ‘Let us consider a people who have the practice of promise keeping, and let us suppose that it is their sole moral practice’ (Moral Practices, p. 10, my italicsGoogle Scholar). Just so a botanist might ask us to consider a plant which has fruit, and to suppose that that is all it has—no roots, stem, leaf or flower. What follows? Until you give us a context, anything you please.

8 Nietzsche, , Genealogy of Morals, Essay 2.Google Scholar

9 Though I shall return to it briefly on p. 249.

10 Manser, A. R., ‘Games and Family Resemblances’, Philosophy, 42, 1967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

11 Khatchadourian, H., ‘Common Names and Family Resemblances’, in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, XVIII (19571958).Google Scholar

12 Epictetus, , Dissertations, II, v. 120.Google Scholar

13 Laws, 803b-d.Google Scholar

14 See his brother Laurence's memoir, A.E.H., pp. 8990.Google Scholar

15 The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

16 See an excellent paper by Loizos, C. on ‘Play Behaviour in Higher Primates’, in Primate Ethology, ed. Morris, D., Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1967.Google Scholar

17 See Khatchadourian, op. cit. Also Kovesi, , Moral Notions, ch. IGoogle Scholar, for a most interesting development of the point.

18 Philosophical Investigations, §66.

19 Existentialism and Humanism, p. 41.Google Scholar

20 See Morris, D., The Naked Ape, p. 32Google Scholar; Loizos, C., op. cit., pp. 185, 214.Google Scholar

21 See Schaller, G., The Year of the Gorilla, p. 210Google Scholar, and Köhler, W., The Mentality of Apes, p. 266.Google Scholar

22 See Morris, D., The Biology of Art, passim.Google Scholar

23 Hare, , PG, p. 120.Google Scholar

24 The Shorter Oxford Dictionary gives as the first meaning of obligation, ‘The action of binding oneself by oath, promise or contract… also that to which one binds oneself, a formal promise’.

25 Benedict, Ruth, Patterns of Culture, pp. 95, 123, 115 (my italics).Google Scholar

26 PG, p. 125.

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