This essay challenges the view that John Rawls's recently published undergraduate thesis A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith provides little help in understanding his mature work. Two crucial strands of Rawls's Theory of Justice are its critique of teleology and its claims about our moral nature and its expression. These strands are brought together in a set of arguments late in Theory which are important but have attracted little sustained attention. I argue that the target of (...) Rawls's undergraduate thesis is a form of Christianity which rests on assumptions Rawls later came to think were fundamental to teleological views, and that the thesis defends an alternative form of religiosity that anticipates what Rawls says in Theory about the expression of our nature. Those sections of Theory also provide resources Rawls could have used to respond to a number of prominent and recurrent criticisms of his account of moral motivation. Seeing the continuities between Brief Inquiry and Theory of Justice shows how long Rawls wrestled with problems he took up in the neglected sections of Theory and thereby shows their importance to Rawls's thought. (shrink)
This article lays out a central argument of Wolterstorff's book, which I call the Argument from Under-Respect . That argument, I contend, is central to Wolterstorff's thought about wrongs and human rights. Close attention to the argument raises questions about whether Wolterstorff's account of rights can explain what a theory of rights must include: why violating rights wrongs the rights-bearer.
This introduction sets the stage for four papers on Nicholas Wolterstorff's Justice: Rights and Wrongs , written by Harold Attridge, Oliver O'Donovan, Richard Bernstein, and myself. In his book, Wolterstorff defends an account of human rights. The first section of this introduction distinguishes Wolterstorff's account of rights from the alternative account of rights against which he contends. The alternative account draws much of its power from a historical narrative according to which theory and politics supplanted earlier ways of thinking about (...) justice. The second section sketches that narrative and Wolterstorff's counter-narrative. The third section draws together the main points of Wolterstorff's own account. (shrink)
Liberal political theorists are often accused of "privatizing" religion; the work of philosopher John Rawls has been especially subject to this criticism. I begin by examining what is meant by "privatization." I then consider the criticisms of Rawls advanced by Timothy Jackson, David Hollenbach, and John Langan. I argue (1) that Rawls does not privatize religion to the extent that his critics believe and (2) that criticisms of what privatization of religion Rawls does defend cannot be sustained.
In his essay "Natural Law, Property, and Justice," B. Andrew Lustig argues for what he calls "significant correspondences" between John Locke's theory of property and scholastic theories of property on the one hand, and between Locke's theory and contemporary Catholic social teaching on the other. These correspondences, Lustig claims, establish an intellectual "tradition of property in common." I argue that linking Aquinas--even via Locke--to the redistributivism of contemporary Catholic social teaching requires distorting his political theory. This distortion, I argue, obscures (...) the possibility of using Aquinas's political theory as a basis for radical social criticism. (shrink)