What does the market do for us? A traditional answer treats individuals’ preferences as their judgments about their welfare, and shows that an idealized competitive economy is efficient in satisfying preferences. Behavioural findings have undermined that answer by showing that individuals’ choices are influenced by welfare-irrelevant contextual factors. I show that, whether or not individuals act on consistent preference, competitive markets provide maximal opportunities for individuals to combine to achieve what, at any time and for whatever reasons, they then want. We can value such opportunities without claiming that their value derives from some more fundamental concept of individual well-being.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Philosophy and Policy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 May 2023


  • market
  • opportunity
  • behavioural economics
  • welfare economics
  • nudging

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