This chapter argues that real liberty is the freedom from the burdens of reality, from hunger, cold, disease, and confinement. Personal liberty is freedom from the demands and annoyances of persons. Real and personal liberation began in earnest with the Industrial Revolution and has since become a broad and diverse phenomenon, so much so that we may despair of getting a grip on it and taking responsibility for it. Yet if there is anything to the sense that contemporary American culture is not conducive to a life of excellence and a good society, we need to find some way of identifying the central driving force of our time. Commodification goes a long way toward disclosing that force and its liabilities. It refers us to a crucial structure of contemporary society, namely, to the market, and it conveys a sense of moral censure. Commodification and social justice, moral commodification, moral vs. economic commodification, commodification and ethics, and the dubious pleasures of commodification are discussed.
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