Count me as one who thinks instant replay in baseball is a bad idea. Call me a ‘luddite purist’ if you must, but I resist the imperialism of technological thinking. You can read George Will’s (whatever you think of his politics, he is a good baseball writer) recent column on the matter here:
This might seem at best tangentially related to philosophical questions. But I think there are lots of interesting philosophical/ethical questions concerning umpires. I friend of mine recently raised a number of them, I will parrot him here:
– How much of the human element do we want in sports? Would a game (baseball, football, etc) be a better game if we had perfect referee robots instead of humans? In such a game, let’s imagine, all the calls are right. The outcome of the game would really be determined by the play on the field, right? But then players and fans would no longer be able to influence the game by influencing the refs. Is that influence an essential part of the games? So would we damage the game? Or would we just lose someone to yell at and blame things on? Is there a hard and fast line to be drawn here?
– How important is it to always get it ‘right’? How do we discern where and how the demand for precision and accuracy should be applied and where a more lax epistemological attitude is not only permissible but preferable?
– Is it morally permisible to treat refs worse than we’d normally treat humans in other circumstances?
– Is it permissible to deliberately try to influence them to make bad calls?