University of Idaho
Center for ETHICS
500 Memorial Gym
Moscow, ID 83844-3080 
Phone: (208) 885-2103
Fax: (208) 885-2108  

Glossary of terms frequently used at the Center for ETHICS*


Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.

- A -

A philosophic term that is applied when something is "pleasing to the senses", whatever the sense might be:  sight, sound, touch, feel, kinesthetic, taste, or smell.            


An ethical position meaning one is not able to make a judgment. Such actions are outside the realm of morality.

anabolic steroids

A drug that resembles male testosterone. A controlled substance that is ONLY used for body building or strength increases.

applied ethics

The practical application of ethical theory directed toward issues in life and certain professions, i.e., medical ethics, sport ethics, business ethics, law ethics and so forth.

The competitive experience of sport whereby coaching is essential with spectators being present, and with specific constitutive, proscriptive, and sportsmanship rules highly developed within an organized structure.  The experience is often likened to that of work with decided aspects of dedication, intensity, and sacrifice.
A philosophic term meaning self governance, whereby one has the right, power, or condition of self governance. The individual has self determinism and freedom from external control or coercion.
The branch of philosophy dedicated to the study of value.
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- B -


The ethical position whereby one attempts and is actually obligated to do no harm, remove harm, prevent harm, and actually do good.


The position whereby an individual shows partiality and prejudice and slanting an opinion in one direction only.

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- C -


A moral demeanor that refers to one's outward demeanor as judged by society. Positive moral character refers to one's ability to know the right and to have the courage to follow the right. Character refers to one's virtue, or how one lives by a set of moral values. A person of character is one who is known to be honest, just, fair, and decent to others. A person of honor and integrity.


One of the necessary stipulations (Value, Principle, Obligation, and Choice) to determine whether a moral issue is being presented. A moral dilemma does not exist if one does not have a choice. Coercion, manipulation, or other excusing conditions usually abrogates moral responsibility.

code of ethics

guidelines written for a professional body to follow. These guidelines are always developed by the professional body, monitored by that body, and enforced by that body

cognitive dissonance

The cognitive process whereby an individual's values and beliefs are challenged. The challenging process is necessary in moral reasoning to wrestle with moral dilemmas.

constitutive rules

The specific game rules that guide play in a sport. Constitutive rules may have unsportsmanlike conduct explicitly described and violations specifically written to punish such behavior.

consequential ethics

Theory based in utilitarian philosophy. Right and wrong are based on the greater amount of good brought about. The consequences of action play a major role in deciding the greater amount of good. Major philosophers: Mill and Bentham who espoused utilitarian ethics.


Steroids developed particularly to reduce inflammation, especially those brought on by over use syndrome. Only legal form of steroid ingestion or injection presently accepted. Corticoid steroids do not cause anabolic characteristics.

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deductive reasoning

Philosophic reasoning described as one in which the argument moves from the general perspective to the specific.

deontic ethics (non-consequential)

Ethical theory based on the ideal that we can perceive rightness apart from any consequences. This perspective believes that there is an inherent right, which must be followed regardless of any extraneous factors. Right and wrong are based on the ideal of what should be. Major philosophers: Kant, i.e., Kantian ethics.


Every event, including human choice and volition, is caused by other events and happens as an effect or result of these other events.

due process

The action of giving individuals the right to refute accusations or actions, and to give individuals a just accounting.


The argumentation position based on opinion which is not supported by fact.

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- E -


The theoretical study of morality. Ethics is also the standard of morality that a profession should follow.

ergogenic aids

Any aid, supplement, or ingested material taken to garner an advantage in the sport experience. Ergogenic aids are usually known as anabolic steroids, blood doping, human growth hormone, or other like materials.


One of the philosophic branches of philosophy. The epistemologist studies knowledge, in particular addressing such questions as: Can we know? What do we know? How do we come to know?

excusing conditions

An ethical position in which outside factors out of an individual's control, excuse the individual from moral action. That is, if the moral action places one in undue jeopardy, or if one cannot readily affect the outcome, or if one is ignorant of the conditions, one is excused from acting.

extrinsic value

The relative worth that an individual places on objects, things, or actions that have an objective worth. For example, an athlete or others in the athletic community might place much value on an article like a letter jacket, which is a symbol awarded for work done.

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- F -

false obstruction

A reasoning obstacle that does not permit an individual to morally reason through a dilemma. Usually this obstacle is permitting a bias or perception cloud one's thinking.

free choice

The philosophic position that individuals have the freedom to choose their moral actions without intimidation, coercion, or manipulation being a factor. Free choice in contrast to determinism supports the concept of autonomy. Choices one can make based on values, outside determinism.

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- G -


The perspective of pushing the rules to the limit, without getting caught, using whatever dubious methods to achieve the end.

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- H -


The quality of trustworthiness in which an individual can be depended on to "not lie, cheat, or steal.".


A virtue or distinguishable characteristic of an individual that implies the individual is obligated to follow a specific set of written or unwritten moral guidelines. Honor implies that the individual has given one's word as a guarantee of future moral performance.

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- I -


A moral perspective in which the individual knows the good, right, and proper course of action but instead chooses to do wrong.

inductive reasoning

Reasoning from particular facts to a general conclusion.


 moral virtue or distinguishable character trait in which an individual is free from corruption. That is, the individual has been shown to have certain positive, moral character traits that even when challenged and tempted to do wrong, will chose the good, right, and proper.


An intentional ac done to frighten or inhibit others or to rendered them to do certain behaviors.

intrinsic value

A nonmoral value in which relative worth of an event, object, or experience is placed on some internal, personal satisfaction. An intrinsic nonmoral value in sport might be the internal, personal joy of playing, the joy of success, the joy of experience, and so forth.

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- J -


A universal moral value in which the essential nature of fairness and equity should be applied to all peoples. Justice in sport refers to "making the field" level either in constitutive rules or for past inadequacies, social injustices, or physical/mental handicaps.

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- L -


The philosophic branch of philosophy in which the focus in on the study of language.

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- M -


The doctrine that everything in the world, including thought, can be explained only in terms of matter. The individual tendency to be more concerned with material, objects, than with spiritual or intellectual values.


The specific philosophic study of ethics in which the formal academic inquiry is toward the analytical. The philosophic branch of philosophy in which study is directed toward questioning the nature of reality. Divided into several different directions, i.e., cosmology, (what is the nature of the universe) or ontology (what is the nature of man). In sport, a metaphysician might ask the question, why do we play?


The moral perspective in which one knows the good, proper, and right. The moral perspective is played out through one's motives, intentions, and actions as they impinge on or affect other human beings.


The motives, intentions, and actions of an individual as they are directed toward others and how these are judged by the greater society.

moral development

The evolving growth process by which one learns to take others into consideration in making moral decisions. Moral Development is usually considered to occur through six different stages in three different levels, from a low reasoned perspective to a greater reasoned perspective.

moral judgment

The ability to form an opinion on moral issues.

moral reasoning

The ability to systematically think through a moral problem taking into consideration one's own values and beliefs while weighing them against what others and society values and believes.

moral value

The worth each individual places on specific nonmoral values, such as winning, which affect and impinge others. Moral values are usually highly specific, such as honesty, justice, responsibility, and beneficence.


The psychological condition which moves an individual to action.

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- N -


The political response in which favoritism is shown to relatives or cronies in delegating authority.

non-moral value

The perspective taken toward an issue in which good and bad are determined based on non moral issues. The question is based on intrinsic or extrinsic values. For example, Jane has a good car.

normative ethics

The theoretical study or position of morality in which a rightness and wrongness is analyzed and reviewed with a decision specifically stated. For example, that's the wrong thing to do.

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- O -


One of the four stipulations of an event which must be met to equate to a moral dilemma. Obligation implies that one "should" and even must follow one's principles, based on one's moral values.


The philosophic position in which one is without bias or prejudice. The position is concerned with reality rather than perceptions or feelings.


Any philosophical condition in which a hindrance is blocking progress or development on a moral issue.

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- P -


An apparent illogical statement that at first appears to be contradictory may be true or false.


The practice of governing or monitoring adult individuals in a manner that suggests a father/child relationship. The practice is ethically violates an adult's status as an autonomous moral agent.


The educational study that is directed toward the art or science of teaching.


The deliberate and rational attempt to understand the whole and the sum of one's objective and subjective experiences with a view for effective living.


The practice of testing validity of all concepts by their practical results.


A preconceived, usually unfavorable, idea or opinion which is biased and intolerant.


A written affirmation on one's values. Always written in the negative, a principle states what one will not do, based on what morally values. If one values honesty, the principle becomes, "Do not lie, cheat, or steal". Principles do have exceptions or qualifiers. For example if a principle violates another principle, qualifiers may exists. "Do not lie, cheat, or steal, unless doing so places another human being in personal jeopardy."

proscriptive rules

Game rules that expressly forbid specific actions.

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- R -

relative worth

The individual importance placed on some intrinsic or extrinsic object, experience, or person.


The popular position that states either that (1) there is no standard of right and wrong, (2) no one has the right to make moral judgments, (3) right and wrong is unknowable because of different societies and cultures, and (4) no one should judge others concerning right and wrong.


The moral value in which one holds someone or something in high regard.


The moral value in which one is answerable, accountable and possibly liable for actions in the past, present, and future. A statement of character that one is trustworthy to carry out deeds.


The moral perspective of placing the onus of on oneself. It is asking the question, "What would it feel like if this was done to you?" Reversibility in common usage is "The golden rule."


Individual day-to-day moral guidelines which can be written or unwritten by the individual. Rules are usually or should be based on specific FIRST rules, or principles. Rules are divided into three different types: constitutive rules, proscriptive rules, and sportsmanship rules. Constitutive rules are those rules that guide play within a specific game. Proscriptive rules are game rules that expressly forbid specific actions. Sportsmanship rules are rules of conduct that are to be followed while in the game and out of the game.

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- S -

situational ethics

The position that every ethical or moral decision is made on the spot and no consistency is shown between individual decision.


The doctrine that the truth of all knowledge must always be in question or doubt.

spirit of a rule

Usually refers to the intent of a sportsmanship rule or what was what was intended by the rule. No rule can take into consideration all possibilities, hence the spirit of a rule is to cover the possibilities.


Games and activities directed toward the play experience in which organization and rules play a significant role.


The quality inherent in playing a game in which one is honor bound to follow the spirit and letter of the rules. Sportsmanship rules are rules of conduct, explicitly written or implicitly believed, that adhere to this principle.


Reasoning in which a logical conclusion is drawn from two premises and a logical conclusion is drawn from them.

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- T -

teleological ethics

(Consequential) - Matters of right and wrong are decided on the issue of the greater amount of good.

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- U -


An ethical perspective in which decisions are decided based on whether the decision can be applied across all societies and cultures in every instance.


Mill's perspective on teleological ethics in which ethical questions are decided on the amount of good generated by the decision. Usually stated as: The greatest amount of measurable good for the greatest number of people.

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- V -


Individual relative worth placed on some intrinsic or extrinsic object, experience, or persons.


A measurement of sound reasoning whereby consistent, impartial, and reflective logic is the standard.


Physical Force exerted for the purpose of injuring another.


The quality of living by one's stated moral values. A person has virtue if they are fair, honest, responsible, and beneficent.

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