The argument is that early Rawls’s conception of the soul is quite a religious one, has a Kantian influence, and informed his later liberal formulation of the rights of the individual and that individual’s relation to the state.
“When all is said and done, the mature Rawls’s epic intellectual labors do not illuminate this fundamental perplexity. Indeed, those labors obscure the perplexity, even as the difficulties are diminished — though they are far from overcome — by the young Rawls’s theological doctrine. Inasmuch as it conceives of man as in but not entirely of the natural world, and possessing a spiritual dimension or soul for which he is not responsible but which is of ultimate worth and allows him to transcend determination by nature, the young Rawls’s doctrine fortifies a liberalism whose guiding thought is that of an inalienable inviolability possessed by all individuals.”
Also, it’s good to keep in mind that both Rawls and Robert Nozick (who made arguments to directly counter Rawls theories of distributive justice) were influenced by Kant. Also, Francis Fukuyama (generally on the right) has drawn heavily on Hegel (who’s inspired Marx and more statist thinkers), and Noam Chomsky (perhaps loony left) drew on Kant for his theory of language.
It’s a crazy, mixed up world. Perhaps Kant (and philosophy more generally) are coming into the fore, or perhaps it’s simply interesting to think about how political thinkers and philosophers have read and misread very important philosophers.
See Also On This Site: A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…From Andrew Sullivan: A Brief Discussion Of John Rawls…From The Hoover Institution: Stanley Kurtz On Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington…The Politics Of Noam Chomsky-The Dangers Of Kantian Transcendental Idealism?