Why I Hate “Common Sense”

With all the recent gun control discussions lately, I’ve seen a resurgence in use of “common sense” to justify various legal proposals. Let me outline a few reasons why I think “common sense” sucks.

It’s intellectually lazy

When you say something is “common sense”, you’re avoiding describing it in a cogent fashion. When you can’t elucidate your ideas in a clear form, it makes it harder for others to understand them, and harder for others to debate them. It turns a debate into a wrestling match w/ a blob of jelly, because you have not taken a definite position for your opposite to evaluate.

It’s demeaning

When you say something is “common sense”, you’re implying that anyone of equal intellect and knowledge would reach the same conclusions you have. In the real world, this is rarely true. More importantly, when you present that attitude during a conversation, it is insulting and demeaning to whomever disagrees with you.

It unfairly shifts the burden of proof

When you say something is “common sense”, you implicitly force your opposite to justify his disagreement without you first justifying your position. This is the opposite of good manners in a debate. If you are proposing an idea, it is your responsibility to present the evidence and logic to support that idea.

So, if you want to espouse your beliefs on what we should do to make this a better country, please do so. Just don’t justify it as “common sense”.

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