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In 1977 Biblioteca della libertà chose to devote a monographic number to the thinking and the magnum opus – A Theory of Justice (1971) – of John Rawls, who died on November 24 2002 at Lexington in the United States. The number, entitled Le ragioni della giustizia (The Case for Justice), and prefaced and edited by Maurizio Ferrera and Piero Gastaldo, included two now famous essays by Rawls – Justice as Fairness (1958) and Distributive Justice (1967) – together with the contributions of several eminent scholars. Here we are republishing them both to record our role as the ‘discoverers’ of John Rawls’s theories in Italy, and to commemorate a man now acknowledged as one of the major twentieth-century liberal-democrat philosophers. As the editors wrote at the time, and as Piero Gastaldo confirms today, ‘A common method to debate about the issues of society may be as important as a shared conception of justice’.