The Rationality of Jealousy

Arina Pismenny
University of Florida

What makes romantic jealousy rational or fitting? To answer this question, I outline the psychological profile of jealousy as a complex emotion, contrasting it with envy, a different kind of rivalrous emotion. Unlike envy, jealousy presupposes a three-party relationship, in which the rival poses a threat to the romantic relationship between the lover and the beloved. Its formal object – the jealousy-worthy – represents this threat. Jealousy is apt when the threat is real, and inapt, when it is not. Aptness assessments of jealousy ordinarily take for granted the monogamous relationship model. Thus, monogamous norms significantly affect the aptness conditions of jealousy by determining the threshold for the criteria of 'threat' and 'rival'. I argue that in evaluating the rationality of jealousy, the presupposed monogamous norms are themselves in need of defense.

July 12th A1.02