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Why Privilege Common Sense?


The reason that is most often appealed to in defense of privileging common sense centers on the nature and the structure of our evidence, or our reasons to form beliefs. When we come to know something, we do so because, in one way or another, it’s truth became apparent to us. Some things, such as that there are trees and buildings, are apparent merely by opening our eyes, and paying attention. Others need to be brought into the light in some way. One common way to try to make a claim seem true is by placing in light of a set of other claims that we might think are correct, and evaluating them in light of those other claims. This is why we give arguments for views. However, in any argument, the evidence we have for the conclusion depends upon the reasons we already had to accept the premises. Given this, we can never have more reason to believe something that isn’t obvious on its own than we have to believe the claims that we use in support of it. Common sense beliefs, however, are both obvious on their own and serve as a central component in what makes it the case that other things seem true to us. Given the dependence of our other beliefs on common sense, we can never have more reason to believe anything else than we have to believe the tenets of common sense. Therefore, if, in your attempts to explain things, you wind up saying things that are incompatible with them, it is always more rational to believe you made a mistake than to believe that common sense was wrong.

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