Wednesday, May 13, 2009

John Rawls on Religion

Joshua Cohen (Stanford University) and Thomas Nagel (New York University) have published an essay on John Rawls and religion in The Times Literary Supplement (TLS). It is short version of an introduction written to a new book "A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith" by John Rawls (Harvard University Press, 2009).

In this book by John Rawls you will find two new texts: Rawls's undergraduate senior thesis submitted to the philosophy department at Princeton University in 1942 - "A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: An Interpretation based on the Concept of Community” - and a short essay written in 1997 - "On My Religion".


Joshua Cohen & Thomas Nagel - Introduction (pp. 1-23)

Robert Merrihew Adams - The Theological Ethics of the Young Rawls and its Bavkground (pp. 24-102)

John Rawls - A Brief Inquiry into The Meaning of Sin and Faith (pp. 103-258)

(1) A General Prospectus
(2) Vindication of the Natural Cosmos
(3) The Extented Natural Cosmos
(4) The Meaning of Sin
(5) The Meaning of Faith

John Rawls - On My Religion (pp. 259-269)

Read also William Galston's comment on the Cohen/Nagel-essay in The New Republic.

Professor Eric Gregory of the Princeton religion department discovered Rawls's undergraduate senior thesis in the Princeton library and has written an article on the document: "Before the Original Position: The Neo-Orthodox Theology of the Young Rawls”, Journal of Religious Ethics, vol. 35 no. 2 (2007), pp. 179-206.

You may raise the question: Is it morally correct to publish Rawls's senior thesis, which was never meant for the public and when we know that Rawls would have disapproved it strongly?

Thomas Pogge - who has written an excellent book on Rawls ("John Rawls - His Life and Theory of Justice", Oxford University Press, 2007) - has a brief comment on this question here.

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