|Why Jim Joyce Wasn’t Wrong: Baseball, Replay, and the Euthyphro Dilemma
by Amber L. Griffioen
, Universität Konstanz, Germany
In 2010, pitcher Armando Galarraga was denied a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce called Jason Donald safe at first with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning. Media coverage of the event used words like “wrong”, “blown” or “missed” to describe the call. Joyce himself was quoted as saying, “It was the biggest call of my career and I kicked the **** out of it.” In this presentation, I will apply Plato’s Euthyphro Dilemma to the case of baseball and will argue for a limited version of what I call “umpire voluntarism” – the view that what makes a pitch a ball or strike, a ball fair or foul, a runner safe or out is not some objective fact about, e.g., the location of the ball, but rather the performative declaration of the umpire himself. I will discuss the seeming objectivity of these types of facts (which has led some to call for the implementation of instant replay) and will attempt to show that these are, in fact, subjective facts in that they depend for their existence on the pronouncement of a particular person – and that this is partially constitutive of the game of baseball itself. I will explore the kinds of reasons umpires can be said to have on this view and will conclude that although their calls cannot be assessed in terms of correctness, they can be evaluated for consistency. Thus Joyce still should have apologized – not because he was wrong, but because he was inconsistent.