The Ideal Relationship Between Kinesiology and Philosophy

It’s hard to figure out the ideal relationship between philosophy and science in the 21st century of kinesiology when most people think of philosophers as old guys made into stone statues that think therefore they are.


And that kinesiology as that thing your nephew might be studying that teaches him about sports. Or isn’t it that weird tape you see athletes wearing? (Close that’s KT Tape)

Actually, kinesiology is defined as the art and science of human movement. No, that doesn’t mean that your nephew is out learning to throw a discus to make a statue of a muscular guy throwing one.


Kinesiology goes beyond the stereotypical PE teacher and focuses on rehabilitation and health.

Coach Hines

While kinesiology may seem to be far from philosophy, when you look at the literal meaning of philosophy, “the love of wisdom,” there is a simpler connection between the two (Kretchmar 2005). Philosophers rely on “judgement, discernment, and a kind of reflective vision that extracts something interesting and useful” (Kretchmar 2005).

While kinesiology does not normally involve sitting still and reflecting on things for long periods of time, careful reflection can be beneficial to research and findings in kinesiology.


In the fast paced life of the 21st century where there seems to be little room for philosophy at all, the ideal relationship between philosophy and kinesiology should be to improve the overall wellbeing of humans. Philosophy is used in kinesiology in many ways but most importantly in research. Ethics, inductive reasoning and intuitive reasoning are just a few aspects of philosophy that are mandatory in kinesiology research.

Most research in Kinesiology is done with qualitative data to measure different responses the body has from various situations the researcher puts their participants through. For example if a researcher would like to know how altitude affects high school cross country runners’ performance they could set up an experiment where some runners run a mile a day at 5,000 feet for 6 weeks while others run the same amount at sea level for those 6 weeks and then compare their mile times before and after. Philosophy would come into play before this research even started in deciding whether the experiment is ethical. Ethics in philosophy is closely related to axiology which is the study of whether something is good (Kretchmar 2005). Beyond looking at whether or not the experiment is intended to do good, ethics will look at how the experiment affects the people that are participating in it (Kretchmar 2005). If a good philosopher realizes that the research harms the participants, they should not proceed with the experiment.  Furthermore, it is important to know that the experiment has the participants’ consent is given, does not use unnecessary deception, debriefs the participants following the research and protects them in any way including confidentiality (Centre of Medical Law and Ethics). So, in the example of the runners in altitude, testing running one mile is considered ethical since cross country runners usually run more than a mile in one day. However, running until they passed out would not. Philosophy ensures that researchers do not put participants through cruel situations for the sake of learning. It is quite possible that this is the most important connection between philosophy and kinesiology since it provides standards for research thus creating an ideal relationship between the two. However, there are other important connections too, such as inductive reasoning.


Kretchmar defines inductive reasoning as the basic “human intellectual ability to move from the specific to the general, from concrete examples to abstract understandings” (2005).  Continuing with the research done on cross country runners running a mile at sea level or altitude, after the 6 weeks both groups were taken to sea level to run a mile recording their times and it was found that the group that trained at elevation did better than the group that trained at sea level. From this experiment, kinesiology researchers can conclude that training at elevation increases endurance over those training at sea level. From that, it can be assumed that anyone who runs at higher altitudes will perform better if they run at sea level when compared to someone that runs at sea level all the time.  This study takes a small, specific sample and broadens it to the general public and assumes that since a small group of people experienced this, so will everyone else. This is an important role in research because there is no point in research if it does not teach us something. Induction helps keep philosophy relevant in kinesiology which is ideal.

The next step in the philosophic process is intuitive reasoning. Intuitive reasoning is the ability of people to be able to see something and then describe it (Kretchmar 2005). This is used in a research setting when researchers “reflect on, add features to, subtract features from, and observe how it [research] changes” (Kretchmar 2005). This would be used in the running example by reflecting on the experiment and assuming that since the runners at elevation outperformed the runners at sea level when they ran at sea level that the same would be assumed if they were to run at elevation. Researchers are able to look at all the aspects of the experiment and reflect on what remains true about their discovery if they change certain aspects of their experiment. Knowing this plays an important role in the ideal relationship between kinesiology and philosophy.

Due to technological advances today there seems to be little room for philosophical thought. However, such is not the case; philosophy is needed in order for sciences such as kinesiology to function. The ideal relationship between kinesiology and philosophy is through research. Philosophy is used to make sure an experiment is ethical, can be applied to all people through inductive reasoning and shows what remains true about the experiment when conditions are changed through intuitive reasoning. Without these, research would not be possible or at best completed ineffectively.


“Ethical Principles for Conducting Research with Human Participants.” Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, King’s College London Manual for Research Ethics Committees (n.d.): 269-73. Web.

Kretchmar, R. Scott, and R. Scott Kretchmar. Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity. 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2005. Print.


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