Julian Jonker

Julian Jonker
  • Assistant Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    Room 669 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Links: CV



Julian Jonker is an assistant professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He works in moral philosophy, legal theory, and business ethics. His general interest is in the normative structure of market institutions, value alignment of market participants, and cooperative institutional design. His current research includes equality at work, the future of the workplace, fair bargaining, and the politics of money. He has also written about the nature of rights, the ethics of risky decisions, and contractualist moral theory.

Professor Jonker is a South African citizen and studied law in South Africa shortly after the democratic transition and the certification of the post-apartheid constitution.  He worked at the District Six Museum during the 2000s, during which time he wrote about the legal and ethical dimensions of intellectual property, heritage, and cultural memory.

Ph.D. (Philosophy), University of California at Berkeley
MPhil (Law), University of Cape Town
LLB, University of Cape Town
BBusSci, University of Cape Town

Academic Positions Held
Lecturer, Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town (2007-2010)

Other Positions Held
Researcher, District Six Museum (2001—2004)

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  • Julian Jonker (2023), Automation, Alignment, and the Cooperative Interface, Journal of Ethics, forthcoming.

    Abstract: The paper demonstrates that social alignment is distinct from value alignment as it is currently understood in the AI safety literature, and argues that social alignment is an important research agenda. Work provides an important example for the argument, since work is a cooperative endeavor, and it is part of the larger manifold of social cooperation. These cooperative aspects of work are individually and socially valuable, and so they must be given a central place when evaluating the impact of AI upon work. Workplace technologies are not simply instruments for achieving productive goals, but ways of mediating interpersonal relations. They are aspects of a cooperative interface i.e. the infrastructure by which we engage cooperative behavior with others. The concept of the cooperative interface suggests two conjectures to foreground in the social alignment agenda, motivated by the experience of algorithmic trading and social robotics: that AI impacts cooperation through its effects on social networks, and through its effects on social norms.

  • Julian Jonker and Grant Rozeboom (Eds.), Working as Equals. Relational Egalitarianism and the Workplace (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023)

    Abstract: Relational egalitarians propose that the ideal of equality is primarily an ideal of social relations. Yet contemporary workplaces are characterized by hierarchical employer-employee relationships. This raises an urgent practical question: are the employment relationship and other workplace arrangements consistent with the relational egalitarian ideal? That in turn raises a theoretical question: what precisely does relational equality consist in? This book collects papers by moral and political philosophers and normative business ethicists addressing these questions, which are particularly urgent at a time of widening inequality and rapid changes in the nature of work. Contemporary moral and political philosophy has not paid enough attention to the workplace as a site where political power is wielded and questions of moral standing are raised. Business ethics has not paid enough attention to whether and how the relational egalitarian ideal applies to the ethics of workplace arrangements and organizational leadership. Bringing the relational egalitarian ideal to bear on the workplace promises to address these shortcomings. To this end, the contributors to this book respond to two overarching questions. First, they consider whether the relational egalitarian ideal really applies to the workplace; and second, they consider what workplace relations and workplace actors would have to be like in order to realize this ideal. In examining these two questions, the contributors illuminate a number of fraught topics: religious liberty and worker entitlements, the comparative view of discrimination, the distribution of human capital, the value of self-employment, the legitimacy of employer directives, and the ideological underpinnings of hierarchy.

  • Julian Jonker, The Workplace as a Cooperative Institution. In Working as Equals: Relational Egalitarianism and the Workplace, edited by Julian David Jonker and Grant Rozeboom, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023), pp. 174-193

    Abstract: How should workplace authority be exercised in the face of disagreement? This chapter begins by outlining a positivist conception of workplace authority, such that employees lack a moral obligation to obey employment directives without more, but may have reason to adopt a workplace perspective that treats such directives as authoritative. There is reason to adopt such a perspective to the extent that the workplace can be seen as a cooperative institution. Workplace authority can be made compatible with the cooperative conception of the workplace if it is subject to a workplace justification constraint, i.e., if workplace directives are justifiable to all reasonable participants in the workplace. This criterion allows workplace authority to accommodate disagreement to the degree we expect of other liberal institutions. It provides a basis for using workplace authority to achieve the goals of work while respecting the fact that individuals may reasonably diverge in their conceptions of the good. The criterion has an egalitarian justification, but one that aims not at equalizing some dimension of the bilateral relation between employer and employee, but rather at providing an institutional perspective which gives each workplace participant equal standing.

  • Julian Jonker (2023), Rights, Abstraction, and Correlativity, Legal Theory, 29, pp. 122-150. https://doi.org/10.1017/S135232522300006X

    Abstract: I survey several counterexamples (by Raz and MacCormick) to Hohfeld's conjecture that a claim-right is correlative to a directed duty and (by Cornell and Frick) to Bentham's suggestion that a claim-right is correlative to a wronging. We can vindicate these claims of correlativity if we acknowledge that entitlements like claim-rights and directed duties admit of degrees of abstraction: that they may be general rather than specific, unspecified rather than specified, or indefinite rather than definite. I provide an error theory consisting in linguistic and practical reasons for why we articulate normative incidents in ways that threaten correlativity. And I deny that abstraction imposes a heavy metaphysical cost on rights theory, though I leave open whether abstraction excludes certain explanatory accounts of rights such as the interest theory or will theory.

  • Julian Jonker (2020), Risk and Asymmetry in Development Ethics, African Journal of Business Ethics, 14 (1), pp. 23-41. https://doi.org/10.15249/14-1-244

  • Julian Jonker (2020), Directed Duties and Moral Repair, Philosophers' Imprint, 20 (23), pp. 1-32.

  • Julian Jonker (2020), Generic Moral Grounding, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 23, pp. 23-28. 10.1007/s10677-020-10074-3

  • Julian Jonker (2019), Affirmative Action for Non-Racialists, Public Affairs Quarterly, 33 (3), pp. 195-214.

  • Julian Jonker (2019), Contractualist Justification and the Direction of a Duty, Legal Theory, 25, pp. 200-224. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1352325219000089

  • Julian Jonker (2019), The Meaning of a Market and the Meaning of “Meaning”, Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy, 15 (2), pp. 186-195. https://doi.org/10.26556/jesp.v15i2.646


All Courses

  • LGST1010 - Law and Social Values

    This course presents law as an evolving social institution, with special emphasis on the legal regulation of business in the context of social values. It considers basic concepts of law and legal process, in the U.S. and other legal systems, and introduces the fundamentals of rigorous legal analysis. An in-depth examination of contract law is included.

  • LGST2160 - Emerging Economies

    This course explores important issues in conducting business internationally in and with emerging economies. Much of the course attempts to define emerging economies and to understand the changes occurring in these countries. The course also examines the position of emerging economies in the global context, and how broad social issues affect the development of emerging economies and the ability to establish relationships or conduct business in emerging economies.

  • LGST9200 - Ethics in Bus & Econ

    The seminar explores the growing academic literature in business ethics. It also provides participants an opportunity to investigate an ethical issue of their choosing in some depth, using their field of specialty as context. The seminar assumes no previous exposure to business ethics. Different business ethics theories and frameworks for investigating issues will be discussed, including corporate social responsibility, corporate moral agency, theories of values, and corporate governance. In turn, these theories will be applied to a range of issues, both domestic and international. Such issues include: corruption in host countries, the management of values in modern corporations, the ethical status of the corporation, ethics in sophisticated financial transactions (such as leveraged derivative transactions), and gender discrimination in the context of cultural differences. Literature not only from business ethics, but from professional and applied ethics, law, and organizational behavior will be discussed. Often, guest speakers will address the seminar. At the discretion of the class, special topics of interest to the class will be examined. Students will be expected to write and present a major paper dealing with a current issue within their major field. The course is open to students across fields, and provides integration of ideas across multiple business disciplines.

  • MGMT6560 - Global Immersion Program

    The Global Immersion Program is a pass/fail, 0.5 credit course that is designed to provide students with an in-depth exposure to international business practices and first-hand insights into a foreign culture. In past years, programs were offered in India, the Middle East, China, South America, Southeast, Asia, and Africa. The program offers students the opportunity to learn about a foreign business environment by way of academic lectures and a multi-week study tour, allowing students to visit with corporate and government officials, network with alumni, and take cultural excursions.

Awards and Honors

  • The Claude Marion Endowed Faculty Scholar Award, 2022-2023
  • Society for Business Ethics Best Conference Paper, 2020
  • Aloe Award for Best Conference Paper, Business Ethics Network – Africa, 2019
  • Society for Business Ethics Best Conference Paper, 2018

In the News

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Latest Research

Julian Jonker (2023), Automation, Alignment, and the Cooperative Interface, Journal of Ethics, forthcoming.
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