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Working as Equals

Relational Egalitarianism and the Workplace

Edited by Julian David Jonker and Grant J. Rozeboom

Publication Date - 19 May 2023

ISBN: 9780197634301

256 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


Are hierarchical arrangements in the workplace, including the employer-employee relationship, consistent with the ideal of relating to one another as moral equals? With this question at its core, this volume of essays by leading moral and political philosophers explores ideas about justice in the workplace, contributing to both political philosophy and business ethics. Relational egalitarians propose that the ideal of equality is primarily an ideal of social relationships and view the equality of social relationships as having priority over the distributive arrangements. Yet contemporary workplaces are characterized by hierarchical employer-employee relationships. The essays push discussions of the relational egalitarian tradition in new directions, helping to show its promise and its limits. They address pressing concerns at a time of widening inequality and rapid changes in the nature of work.

The contributors explore two overarching topics. First, they consider whether the relational ideal of equality really applies to the workplace. In doing so, they explore the scope of the relational egalitarian approach and its promise for extending political philosophy beyond the institutions of the state. Second, they consider what workplace relations and workplace actors would have to be like in order to fulfill the relational egalitarian ideal. In examining these two issues, the contributors both flesh out the relational egalitarian ideal and add to our understanding of the ethical norms of the workplace.

The book is an invaluable resource for those studying political philosophy and ethics, particularly relational egalitarianism. Additionally, lawyers interested in the foundations of labor law and antidiscrimination law will find it highly informative.


  • Gathers essays by senior and emerging scholars in political philosophy and business ethics
  • Broadens and deepens our understanding of equality at work
  • Addresses relational equality by focusing on its implications for social relations at work

About the Author(s)

Julian David Jonker is Assistant Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include relational normativity and private law theory, the philosophy of work, and the social ontology of economic institutions.

Grant J. Rozeboom is Assistant Professor of Business Ethics and Social Responsibility at Saint Mary's College of California. His research concerns a range of issues in normative and applied ethics, and he has published papers on relational equality and the workplace, the basis of moral equality, the attitude of respect for persons, and morally creditworthy motivation.


"In times of the 'big quit,' questions about workplace relations have come to the fore of public discussions again -- and philosophers have turned to them as well. This volume brings together an interesting range of papers on philosophical dimensions of work, discussing both moral and institutional demands, from angles such as autonomy, reason-giving, or democracy. They are worth reading not only for where they agree but also for where they disagree, showing what normative values are at stake in the organization of work life." -- Lisa Herzog, Author of Reclaiming the System: Moral Responsibility, Divided Labor, and the Role of Organizations in Society

Table of Contents

    Elizabeth Anderson

    1. Introduction
    Grant J. Rozeboom and Julian David Jonker

    2. What Is Wrong with the Commodification of Human Labor Power: The Argument from “Democratic Character”
    Debra Satz

    3. An Objection to Workplace Hierarchy Itself?
    Niko Kolodny

    4. Seeing Like a Firm: Social Equality, Conservatism, and the Aesthetics of Inequality
    Pierre-Yves Néron

    5. Self-Employment and Independence
    Iñigo González Ricoy

    6. Hobby Lobby and the Moral Structure of the Employee-Employer Relationship
    David Silver

    7. Justice in Human Capital
    Michael Cholbi

    8. Can Employers Discriminate without Treating Some Employees Worse Than Others? Discrimination, the Comparative View, and Relational Equality
    Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen

    9. A Cooperative Paradigm of Employment
    Sabine Tsuruda

    10. The Workplace as a Cooperative Institution
    Julian David Jonker

    11. Relational Egalitarianism, Institutionalism, and Workplace Hierarchy
    Brian Berkey

    12. Good Enough for Equality
    Grant J. Rozeboom

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