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Common Sense and Philosophical Method

What’s the relationship between common sense and philosophy? This is one of a number of challenging methodological issues philosophers across a wide range of fields face. Guy Longworth, reader in philosophy at the University of Warwick, offers some thoughts on this question. In an interview by Richard Marshall at 3:16 about his work, some of which has been on the connection between ordinary language philosophy and experimental philosophy, Marshall asks him: “JL Austin defended common-sense and thought philosophers didn’t understand it. Are you sympathetic to his approach to philosophising and his view that philosophers refuse to cash the cheques written by common sense, as you vividly put it?” Here’s Longworth’s reply: I think that common-sense is important in philosophy, at least insofar as our aims as philosophers are more than merely exploratory—that is, insofar as we hope to get things right. For common-sense is just our general ability to assess claims and courses of action. Furthermore, I think that philosophers typically have a good, off-duty understanding of the demands of common-sense. Insofar as they depart from those demands, I think that their doing so is often due to pressure from the competing demands of clean, general theorising. One of Austin’s central insights, one shared by some other ordinary language philosophers, was that common-sense thinking is indefinitely sensitive to differences amongst cases. By contrast, as [More]

That’s Common Sense!

TABLE TALK SERIES That’s Common Sense! by Rick Pimentel There are so many issues that people discuss with one another that have philosophical significance. Whether it is at the dinner table or at a restaurant or at a café or in the living room or on the phone, we all discuss issues that pertain t... [More]

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