In addressing issues of transgenerational justice, ethical analysis is overmatched by the challenge of assigning benefits and burdens to actors, monitoring cooperation between actors, and calculating the consequences of actions in long-term compound action. But justice-oriented ethics is not the only frame of reference in which rightness is judged. Our shared responsibility on a larger scale of action is the object of a distinctively historical reckoning that takes account of how action seems actually to have accumulated and seems likely to accumulate further over the long term. Historically responsible agents are obliged to act in accordance with more informed and considerate views of shared action over time. The most basic standard of historical rightness is greatness in the sense of a maximized participation of all actors in shared action. Actions can be responsible by promoting the freedom and solidarity of agents and the redemption of past actions without being demonstrably just.

You do not currently have access to this content.