The Study of Play (April 2019)

This essay first appeared in the April 2019 issue of Choice (volume 56 | issue 8).


In the 1920s a genre of scholarly material addressing the facts and values associated with human play started to emerge. Scholars in the social and biological sciences were interested in factual questions: What is play? How did humans—children and adults—play in the past? How do humans play today? And, ultimately, why do humans play? Scholars in other broad areas—philosophers, ethicists, political scientists— asked normative questions concerning the moral and legal values that underlie various forms of human play: Are there timeless universals that indicate how children play or ought to play, or are playtime facts and/or values r…

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About the author:

Both authors are at Mount St. Joseph University, where Charles Kroncke is professor of economics and Ronald F. White is professor of philosophy.