Commodification is the social process of rendering something capable of being bought or sold in a market. While the term commodification became current only in the 1970s, the idea of commodification and the moral controversies surrounding that idea have a long history, centering on the question of what, if anything, should be commodified. Immanuel Kant, for example, in the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, drew a sharp distinction between things that have a price and things that have a dignity. Since persons, being ends in themselves, have a dignity, it was Kant’s view that they should not be commodified (i.e., enslaved), although Kant did not object to commodifying their labor. Karl Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, objected to any form of commodification, railing that ...

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