Envy is a vicious and shameful response to the good fortune of others, one that ruins friendships and plagues societies—or so the common thinking goes, shaped by millennia of religious and cultural condemnation. Envy’s bad reputation is not completely unwarranted; envy can indeed motivate malicious and counterproductive behavior and may strain or even tear apart relations between people. However, that is not always the case. Investigating the complex nature of this emotion reveals that it plays important functions in social hierarchies and it can motivate one to self-improve and even to achieve moral virtue.
Philosophers and psychologists in this volume explore envy’s characteristics in different cultures, spanning from small hunter-gatherer communities to large industrialized countries, to contexts as diverse as academia, marketing, artificial intelligence, and Buddhism. They explore envy’s role in both the personal and the political sphere, showing the many ways in which envy can either contribute or detract to our flourishing as individuals and as citizens of modern democracies.
Sara Protasi is associate professor of philosophy at University of Puget Sound. Her research interests are primarily in moral psychology, ethics, and philosophical psychology
Introduction: Striving to Be Better, Sulking in a Corner, Stealing the Spotlight, Spoiling Someone’s Joy: The Many Faces of Envy by Sara Protasi
1. A Sociocultural Perspective on Envy: On Covetous Desire, the Evil Eye, and the Social Regulation of Equality by Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera
2. How Envy and Being Envied Shape Social Hierarchies by Jens Lange and Jan Crusius
3. On the Epistemic Effects of Envy in Academia by Felipe Romero
4. “I could have been you”: Existential Envy and the Self by Íngrid Vendrell Ferran
5. Envy, Compassion and the Buddhist (No)Self by Christina Chuang
6. Let the Donkeys Be Donkeys: In Defense of Inspiring Envy by Maria Silvia Vaccarezza and Ariele Niccoli
7. Malicious Moral Envy by Vanessa Carbonell
8. “You’re Just Jealous!”: On Envious Blame by Neal Tognazzini
9. The Fact of Envy: Trends in the History of Modern Economics by Miriam Bankovsky
10. The Politics of Envy: Outlaw Emotions in Capitalist Societies by Alfred Archer, Alan Thomas and Bart Engelen
11. To Envy an Algorithm by Alison Duncan Kerr
12. The Envious Customer by Niels van de Ven
About the contributors
The Moral Psychology of Envy is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in rehabilitating envy as a morally valuable emotion. It paints a nuanced and refreshing picture of envy’s contribution to individual and collective flourishing.
Sara Protasi deserves the thanks of every philosopher working on the moral psychology of envy for putting together this admirably wide-ranging and adventurous collection of new research.
4/14/22, Choice: This book was featured in a roundup of forthcoming titles in psychology.