University of Wales
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Athletes and sports people regularly engage in risky practices when competing in sport. Previous research has proven that the risky practice of 'wasting' which a proportion of jockeys engage in is detrimental to physical and psychological wellbeing. This paper aims to address the lack of research in the philosophical literature in regards to horse racing and contribute to this neglected area. The aim of this dissertation is to examine the weight regulations of National Hunt racing in England, Scotland and Wales to decide whether they encourage risky dietary practices amongst professional jockeys and to determine the extent to which paternalistic interventions might be justified. The concept of paternalism is examined to establish where paternalistic interference stands in relation to the wasting habits of jockeys. To decide whether paternalistic interference is justified in this area, Anderson’s (2007) conceptual analysis of risk is used. In addition, the impact of a jockey’s social structure is considered in order to establish the influences which push them to extreme wasting. This paper argues that the weight regulations which are currently in place encourage risky dietary practices of jockeys. It acknowledges that paternalistic constraints of voluntary choice and autonomy are only justified under rare circumstances. However, the paper concludes that paternalistic interventions are justified in relation to jockeys’ wasting habits on the grounds that the high level of likelihood and severity of the risks attached to wasting constitute extreme circumstances. These circumstances lead to the jockey’s cognitive ability being temporarily impaired, which justifies paternalistic interference due to their voluntary state being violated.
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