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The recent posthumous publication of John Rawls's undergraduate thesis 'A Brief Inquiry Into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: An Interpretation Based on the Concept of Community' constitutes a welcome opportunity to examine the relationships between Rawls's religious commitments and his political philosophy. In this essay, informed by a complete examination of Rawls's archived papers at Harvard, I set out some of these commitments, trace their development over time, and indicate some of the ways they find expression in Rawls's political thought. In the 1990s Rawls characterized his life's work as addressed to a question 'essentially religious in nature': Can human nature be redeemed? It is perhaps, then, no surprise that reading his work against the background of his, eventually non-theistic, religious commitments and concerns helpfully casts it in a new light.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Tennessee, Dept. of Philosophy, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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