This Independent Study thesis is divided into three chapters. The first chapter, “What is Modern Capitalism?” lays out exactly what economic structure and corresponding social structure is the focus of my critique. Understanding the motivations and basic commitments of the modern capitalist system will be revealing towards its social implications. This chapter is meant to be the least controversial and simply show what the modern neoliberal model of consumer capitalism is and expose some potential short coming in terms of the broad scope of social development.

The second chapter, “Two Critiques of Capitalism,” examines two different classical critiques of the capitalist system as a system of social organization. The first critique is Karl Marx’s conception of wage labor which is dictated to the proletariat from the bourgeois, and is necessarily alienating for the worker in four ways. The strongest, and most important form of alienation within wage labor is Alienation from the human species-essence. The second critique is from Adam Smith’s thoughts that proper moral sentiments are required in the practice of capitalism, and that virtuous participants in the market are necessary to the well-being of a society in capitalism.

The third chapter, reveals a particular conception of liberty and how it is important to the instillation of truly democratic society. Real liberty in this sense is going to be liberty as non-domination as conveyed by Philip Pettit. This chapter is an expansion on what specific value society ought to have in high priority with regard to the procedural aspects of installing and maintaining capitalist institutions. “Progressive Models,” explores currently practiced models that have both the potential for large-scale success, and the ability to instill the appropriate moral values to legitimize its institutionalization. It will focus on an ideal model called “Economic Democracy” which is proposed by David Schweickart, and actual enterprises like Mondragon and Arizmendi’s Bakery which have worker-ownership as a focal point of their business model.


McBride, Lee




Ethics and Political Philosophy


Capitalism, Marx, Smith, Friedman, Labor, Capitalist, Alienation, Exploitation, Liberty, Domination, Economic Democracy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Matthew Robert Osolinski