Abstract: In order to understand the connection between development, marketing and transformative consumer research (TCR), with its attendant interest in promoting human well-being, this article begins by charting the links between US ‘exceptionalism’, ‘Manifest Destiny’ and modernisation theory, demonstrating the confluence of US perspectives and experiences in articulations and understandings of the contributions of marketing practice and consumer research to society. Our narrative subsequently engages with the rise of social marketing (1960s-) and finally TCR (2006-). We move beyond calls for an appreciation of paradigm plurality to encourage TCR scholars to adopt a multiple paradigmatic approach as part of a three-pronged strategy that encompasses an initial ‘provisional moral agnosticism’. As part of this stance, we argue that scholars should value the insights provided by multiple paradigms, turning each paradigmatic lens sequentially on to the issue of the relationship between marketing, development and consumer well-being. After having scrutinised these issues using multiple perspectives, scholars can then decide whether to pursue TCR-led activism. The final strategy that we identify is termed ‘critical intolerance’.