Virtue ethics is an important strand of moral philosophy which normative economists have largely neglected. It underpins influential critiques of the market (as a domain in which instrumental motivation corrodes virtue) and of economics (as justifying such motivation). We explain and respond to this critique. Using the methods of virtue ethics and with reference to the writings of major economists, we propose an understanding of the ‘telos’ (purpose) of markets as cooperation for mutual benefit, and identify traits that thereby count as virtues for market participants. We conclude that the market need not be seen as a virtue-free zone.