The argument can be made that "showing-off" is not ethical since that behaviour will likely make other people jealous and feel bad about themselves. But on the other hand, jealousy and self-loathing is generally considered immoral or consequence of poor self-control and those how have these emotions should be themselves at fault. Yet intuitively I still don't think it is right to show off and would generally dislike people who have a tendency of doing this. How should we think about this issue?

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  • I dunno about showing off itself, but many people buy expensive things ONLY to show off and that looks to me... well, I'm amoral, so it looks to me irrational. – rus9384 Feb 10 at 23:59
  • Aeon has an interesting discussion of "showing off", defined as "behavior intended to attract admiration". Strawson expressed the classical position that, at the root, it is deceptive, hence unethical, because the intention is concealed. But typical examples demonstrate that often the intention is not concealed (as in dating or job interviews, for example). One can be impressed by a performance they realize is designed to impress, and that can play legitimate social functions. Indeed, even outright lying can. – Conifold Feb 11 at 3:50
  • @DanielLi it all depends on the subject, sometimes showing-off sparks a competitive atmosphere between students, soccer players...etc. Which leads to better results. At work, studies or any life endeavor, I would prefer being with braggers because usually these guys are the ones who make you want to work, instead of those who keep saying that they did not do their homework and it's okay. Showing-off makes you want to beat them, one should not show off of course, but you have to see it as an advantage when others do. – SmootQ Feb 11 at 22:11


People show off all the time. How are you going to stop people from showing off? It matters to people in a serious way that other people are made aware of their achievements. So, while I would say gloating, self aggrandizement and excessive displays of one's accomplishments is an ugly characteristic more likely to make people dislike you, letting others know about your achievements, showing them off even, is a perfectly fine thing to do with no real harm done to any balanced individual. Of course, a better word for this characterization is pride.


I can show off for purposes of making other people feel bad about themselves. I consider that unethical. I can show off for the purpose of establishing some authority in an argument, and in that case I might be helping people make the correct decision. As Conifold points out in a comment, an artistic performance might include a tour de force, which is simply showing off for entertainment, making people feel better.


This question does not have a right or wrong answer. It merely depends on who you are, what type of situation you find yourself in and your intentions, for you could ‘show off’ for a teleological purpose. However, in a general context, I would argue showing off is unethical. One should not walk the earth with arrogance, as this only leads for others to practise envy. All humans are born with equal worth, therefore we should maintain this code of conduct which laws and scripture dictate.

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