‘I'm not envious, I'm just jealous!’: On the Difference Between Envy and Jealousy

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I argue for the view that envy and jealousy are distinct emotions, whose crucial difference is that envy involves a perception of lack while jealousy involves a perception of loss. I start by noting the common practice of using ‘envy’ and ‘jealousy’ almost interchangeably, and I contrast it with the empirical evidence that shows that envy and jealousy are distinct, albeit similar and often co-occurring, emotions. I then argue in favor of a specific way of understanding their distinction: the view that envy is a response to a perceived lack of a valuable object, while jealousy is a response to a perceived loss of a valuable object. I compare such a view with the most compelling alternative theories, and show that it accounts better for paradigmatic cases. I conclude by showing how the lack vs. loss model can handle complications: ambiguous cases, that is, when it is epistemically unclear whether one experiences lack or loss; hybrid cases, that is, when one seems to experience both lack and loss; and borderline cases, that is, when it is metaphysically unclear whether one experiences lack or loss.
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Archival date: 2017-07-10
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