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I need some help over here. First of all, I will give the whole paragraph to provide the context then ask the question about where I am stuck.

Paragraph:

When representing preferences over ordinary consumption good, we will want to express the fundamental view that "wants" are essentially unlimited. In a very weak sense, we can express this by saying that there will always exist some adjustment in the composition of the consumer's consumption plan that he can imagine making to give himself a consumption plan he prefers.

I have two questions:

  1. does the consumer imagine making a composition?
  2. if the first question yes, then does he make a composition in order to give himself the consumption plan he would prefer? if no can you please break the second sentence of the paragraph to me.
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    If it makes you feel any better, the paragraph confuses me too (native speaker). It is very poorly written in my opinion. – TypeIA Sep 13 '18 at 19:43
  • LOL, it is a paragraph taken out of an advanced microeconomic coursebook at PhD level, that is written by a professor tho :) – Ufuk Caglayan Sep 13 '18 at 19:52
  • That doesn't mean anything. Professors are just as capable of bad writing as anyone else. I'm in engineering and I've read some awful high level academic texts. The writing doesn't need to be complex and confusing just because the subject matter is. – TypeIA Sep 13 '18 at 19:59
  • It is not idiomatic prose. What is "consumption good"? It is also involuted shite. "... there will always exist some adjustment in the composition of the consumer's consumption plan that he can imagine making to give himself a consumption plan he prefers." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 14 '18 at 13:02
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I remember seeing something very similar, if not identical to this in one of my Economics textbooks in college.

The second sentence assumes that the consumer has a "consumption plan" in mind. This consumption plan has a composition - it is made of several parts. For example, my consumption plan could be to consume an orange, two apples, and a banana. It is composed of three parts: consuming an orange, consuming two apples, and consuming a banana.

What the second sentence is saying is that no matter what consumption plan a consumer has, there is something they can change about the consumption plan to make them like it more.

For example, take my earlier consumption plan of an orange, two apples, and a banana. If I like blueberries more than bananas, I could change the banana in my plan to blueberries. I would like this new plan (orange, two apples, blueberries) more than my old plan (orange, two apples, banana).

So to answer your questions:

1) Yes, the consumer would be imagining making a new composition of their consumption plan.

2) The consumer does not actually make the composition to give themselves the new consumption plan. The new, imaginary, consumption plan simply has a composition that the consumer likes more than the composition of their current consumption plan.

  • Firstly, I really appreciate your efforts. You have been very helpful. For further clarification, then in this phrase "consumption plan that he can imagine making to give himself a consumption plan he prefers." that" does refer to only "plan", doesn't it? – Ufuk Caglayan Sep 13 '18 at 20:23
  • In this context, I believe that "that" is actually a conjunction. The "that" you mention is used to link "the adjustment" to "he can imagine making" - this has the meaning of "the consumer can imagine making an adjustment to their consumption plan". The sentence can be reworded as "The consumer can always imagine making an adjustment to his consumption plan to give himself a consumption plan that he prefers." – Michael Dai Sep 13 '18 at 20:35

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