This is a journal article (ungated) from a few years ago (2007), but I found it absolutely fascinating. In it, Eric Gregory examines John Rawls’s Princeton senior thesis – there are some really fascinating findings here.
This paper examines a remarkable document that has escaped critical attention within the vast literature on John Rawls, religion, and liberalism: Rawls’s undergraduate thesis, “A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: An Interpretation Based on the Concept of Community” (1942). The thesis shows the extent to which a once regnant version of Protestant theology has retreated into seminaries and divinity schools where it now also meets resistance. Ironically, the young Rawls rejected social contract liberalism for reasons that anticipate many of the claims later made against him by secular and religious critics. The thesis and Rawls’s late unpublished remarks on religion and World War II offer a new dimension to his intellectual biography. They show the significance of his humanist response to the moral impossibility of political theology. Moreover, they also reveal a kind of Rawlsian piety marginalized by contemporary debates over religion and liberalism
Keith Magnuson attacks the “lesser of two evils” justification of torture. If, as Krauthammer believed, torture is a “monstrous evil” but less evil than the alternative, this doesn’t mean we ought do it (as Magnuson points out, these arguments often reduce to emotivism). Note that this article assumes that torture is an absolute evil – if it isn’t, it may still be the case that Christians ought never use torture, but at the very least it means that torture isn’t categorically banned.