Some commentators state that Marshall conceptualizes well-being primarily in terms of the consumer's and producer's surpluses, whose interdependence with moral character rests on the ability of markets to produce their effects on character spontaneously. The purpose of the present article is to show that evolutionary faith is not really enough to remove the tension between the economic and moral dimensions of Marshall's definition of well-being. Marshall understands that progress would not happen without assigning a special role to families and women in cultivating family affections as an essential means of harmonizing these two dimensions. To prove this point, the article examines several economic texts written before Marshall's major economic treatise, Principles of Economics, the first edition of which appeared in 1890. These texts have received little consideration in the existing literature about Marshall's treatment of the role of women in society. Yet they prefigure and allow a better understanding of the theory later expounded in Principles, apprehended here as the fruit of a long process of maturation that continues throughout revisions made in the successive editions of the book.

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