Philosophy v. Common Sense


Speaking of philosophical methodologies (and there is of course a lot that falls under that heading), one longstanding issue is the extent to which philosophy must ultimately conform with common sense. Of course there have been countless counterintuitive theses defended in the history of philosophy, but the dominant view today seems to be that philosophy is indeed in some way answerable to common sense. I hold out hope for philosophy’s revisionist power, so it was a pleasure to read “Why Philosophy Can Overturn Common Sense” by Susanna Rinard, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. The essay appears in the Oxford Studies in Epistemology, vol. 4 (edited by Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne). Feel free to suggest other recent work on this topic in the comments.

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Manuel Vargas
7 years ago

There is a fair amount of work on revisionist approaches and methodologies in the literature on free will and moral responsibility. With apologies for the self-citation, I discuss some of them in “Revisionist Accounts of Free Will” in the second edition of Kane’s _Oxford Handbook of Free Will and offer a sustained defense in _Building Better Beings_ (OUP 2013).Report

John
John
Reply to  Manuel Vargas
7 years ago

Free will and moral responsibility are rooted in belief rather than reality. Free will relies on the myth of an unmoved mover and moral responsibility arises from man made codes of traditional values. The first is fictional and the second arbitrary. Consequently, both fall within the province of religion as opposed to philosophy.Report

John
John
7 years ago

Common sense is merely conventional thinking. In the final analysis, it relates to language as also does conventional philosophy. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as philosophy only philosophers. Those who study philosophy strive to understand the specialized language developed by those who are called philosophers (academics accorded the authority to invent new words or change the meaning of existing ones). Hence, philosophy is the study of itself. This arises from adopting the scientific practice of interpreting words as ideas (abstract objects) e.g. space, time, energy, mass, force, wave, particle, etc. These words/ideas are man made and have no more fundamental reality than ice cream or cheese cake. They are what they are because and only because we define them as such using other words defined in the same way. Although fashionable, it is inappropriate for philosophy to adopt the scientific method which relates to information (how?) and not to knowledge (what?).Report