Rochenko writes here about responsibility in the context of what in the trade gets called intergenerational justice, something I've written about before. What's interesting about it, understandably, is the issues it raises for establishing a criterion for responsibility and hence political obligation, particularly in terms of, to use another piece of perhaps deliberately obscurantist jargon, cosmopolitan justice. If, as I think most people do, you accept that people living now have obligations of some sort to future generations, as Rochenko suggests, you're probably going to have justify that on some kind of effects-based criterion. Because we do things now - where, of course, abstention from action can count as an act - which we are well aware will have effects in the future - make decisions about the use of various finite natural resources, the pursuit of various infrastructure projects, and so on - we have an obligation to take into consideration those effects. That's not to say that those effects necessarily ought to determine our decisions: there may be other considerations, equally or even more compelling. Still, they ought to be taken into account.
Once that criterion is admitted in the context of intergenerational justice though, it's hard to see why it shouldn't also be admitted in the context of cosmopolitan justice as well. Cosmopolitans, in this context, are those who think that our obligations of justice extend beyond our borders, that, for example, aid to the developing world is a moral obligation. Since our actions, again, including the act of doing something else, effect those outside our national borders, we have an obligation to take into consideration those effects. It also suggests something else about the nature of obligation though, that it is bounded by some kind of effects criterion. Whilst it is easy to see why Sub-Saharan Africans who suffer as a result of First World farm supports might have a just complaint against those farm supports, it is much harder, for example, to see why any putative intelligent lifeforms in serious distress on Mars might have a complaint against our failure to assist them, precisely because we cannot: we do not have any effect on the Martians.
Subscribing to the view that we do not have an obligation to assist such Martians, however, undermines a fairly common understanding of justice, that justice is a matter of equality, in some form or other. The Martians are, ex hypothesi, worse off, let us assume through no fault of their own - apart from anything else, they didn't choose to be born on Mars - so if we thought justice was a matter of equality, we would seem to have a justice-based obligation to make attempts to equalise our situation and that of the Martians. The effects-based criterion, whilst not excluding the possibility that justice is a matter of equality as well as of effect since it does not deny that we have an obligation to the Martians, by seeming to account for normal cases of justice - both inside and outside modern nation states - casts doubt on whether we need to take on the extra claim that justice is intimately involved in achieving equality, of whatever sort.
Of course, equality may remain a perfectly respectable political goal for instrumental reasons. Equal effects should, presumably, mandate equal consideration, for example, and so equal political rights, and freedom before the law and from material wants, goals which have been justified under a banner of equality, would mostly be untroubled. Giving up on equality as an intrinsic value, a thing which can somehow be embedded in states of affairs, however, would I think be to the advantage of the left. Most obviously, it would eliminate the levelling-down objection, that an egalitarian must prefer, in some respect at least, a situation where all have less to one with inequalities, a position which can lead, for example, to the endorsement, in some limited sense, of programmes of blinding so as to remove the unequal distribution of sight. Adopting the effects criterion would also make explicit the link between the programme of the left and freedom, by cashing out intervention in terms of mielorating the effects of actions of others over which we would otherwise have no control.