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Boston College Law Professor Kent Greenfield Discusses ‘The Myth of Choice’

October 21, 2011


Americans are acutely focused on the availability of choice – in the marketplace, in the legal system and in politics – yet their options may not be as varied as they think, Kent Greenfield said during a visit to the law school on Oct. 20.

A professor at the Boston College Law School, Greenfield wrote “The Myth of Choice: Personal Responsibility in a World of Limits,” a book recently published by Yale University Press that raises questions about the actual power of free will in our society.

Americans’ perceptions of choice stem in large part from the marketplace, where messages tout the availability of options for selecting products and services tailored to consumers’ preferences and whims, Greenfield said.

“Markets aren’t all they’re cracked up to be,” he said. “You only have freedom in the market, if you have something to exchange.”

And for the half of the world population that lives on less than $2 per day and for the millions of children who are sold into sex trafficking, he noted, “the markets are a source of constraint.”

Greenfield’s visit was sponsored by the American Constitution Society.