The “Sunburn” Allegory

In an apartment-house courtyard bathed in the strong rays of the afternoon sun, four grown-ups are standing around playing ball with a small child of an age such that he is just about able to toddle but not yet to speak: “The sun is much too strong for you,” says one of the parents to the toddler. “If we don’t put some sun-cream on you, when you’re 80 you’ll die an agonizing death!” With these words the parent in question at once concedes a certain co-responsibility for the welfare, or otherwise, of his or her child while at the same time drawing a veil over a more fundamental level of this responsibility: namely, the responsibility for this small child’s existing and for his having – like almost all human beings – with great probability to die an agonizing death.

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