The Moral Value of Envy

Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):36-53 (2015)
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It is common to think that we would be morally better people if we never felt envy. Recently, some philosophers have rejected this conclusion by arguing that envy can often be directed toward unfairness or inequality. As such, they conclude that we should not suppress our feelings of envy. I argue, however, that these defenses only show that envy is sometimes morally permissible. In order to show that we would not be better off without envy, we must show how envy is not merely morally permissible, but morally valuable. Here I provide a defense of envy's moral value. I argue that feelings of envy are integral to the value that moral agents place on the goods and talents that they judge to be central to a worthwhile life

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Krista Thomason
Swarthmore College


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