Keywords: Global Justice, Virtue, Scottish Enlightenment, Impartial Spectator, Sympathy.
Amartya Sen presents his approach to the idea of justice as alternative to the transcendental institutionalism of John Rawls. This article shows Sen's many debts to the moral theory of Adam Smith, specially about the form of reasoning and the conception of objectivity. Sen develops Smith's theory of «impartial spectator» as a resource against the parochialism of the social contract perspective on the international justice. Nevertheless the following argument is that Sen is not fully aware of some specific aspects of Smith's heritage, which are connected to the context of Scottish Enlightenment. The theory of global justice can develop an approach - perhaps a better approach - using smithian instruments that are not very central in Sen's analysis: for example, the role of sympathy in global civilization and the prevalence of virtues in normative discourse.