by Tim Harding
The American writer H L Mencken once said “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” He was referring to ‘common sense’, which can be superficially plausible and sometimes right, but often wrong.
The Common Sense Fallacy (or ‘Appeal to Common Sense’) is somewhat related to the Argument from Popularity and/or the Argument from Tradition. However, it differs from these fallacies by not necessarily relying on popularity or tradition.
Instead, common sense relies on the vague notion of ‘obviousness’, which means something like ‘what we perceive from personal experience’ or ‘what we should know without having had to learn.’ In other words, common sense is not necessarily supported by evidence or reasoning. As such, beliefs based on common sense are unreliable. The fallacy lies in giving too much weight to common sense in drawing conclusions, at the expense of…
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