I like cycling and it’s Tour de France season, so here’s a cycling related post. Ted King, a rider for the Cannondale squad, found himself eliminated from the entire race by seven seconds yesterday. The rule goes like this: all riders must complete the race within 25 percent of the winning time. King’s time fell outside of that, so he was disqualified.
This certainly sucks for him. Now perhaps relevant to this story is the fact that King was the victim of a serious crash and was riding on a separated shoulder. I say “perhaps” because here we have a genuine puzzle of the non fallacious ad misericordiam argument. It goes like this: surely King, who was riding on an injured shoulder, deserves some leniency.
Questions such as these are very difficult. The time cut off exists for a reason (though I don’t know what it is). Regardless, appealing to extenuating circumstances in this case seems reasonable.
What is not reasonable, however, is the following tweet by Garmin Team Director Jonathan Vaughters:
My reasoning was that if we wish to encourage clean cycling, we can’t impose very high minimum speeds. But “c’est le ciclisme!” wins over logic
— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) July 3, 2013
Sadly, this reminds me of the student who says high standards made him cheat. Should cheating occur, it’s not the result of the rules. It’s a result of people failing to deal with the rules fairly. Raising the prospect of cheating as a consequence of rules you don’t agree with is cheating. Only it’s cheating at logic. Besides, the Tour directors, as far as I know, didn’t set the minimum speed, but rather the percentage of the cut off. The riders set the speed.