Tag Archives: common sense

Michael Lockwood

What is inconsistent with the universal applicability of quantum mechanics is not out ordinary experience as such, but the common-sense way of interpreting it. And I am bound to say that, in this area, I cannot see that common sense has any particular authority, given that our intuitions have evolved within a domain in which characteristically quantum-mechanical effects are scarcely in evidence.

Michael Lockwood, Mind, Brain, and the Quantum: The Compound ‘I’, Oxford, 1989, p. 224

Alastair Norcross

Since, according to maximizing utilitarianism, any act that fails to maximize is wrong, there appears to be no place for actions that are morally admirable but not required, and agents will often be required to perform acts of great self-sacrifice. This gives rise to the common charge that maximizing utilitarianism is too demanding. […] How should a utilitarian respond to this line of criticism? One perfectly respectable response is simply to deny the claims at the heart of it. We might insist that morality really is very demanding, in precisely the way utilitarianism says it is. But doesn’t this fly in the face of common sense? Well, perhaps it does, but so what? Until relatively recently, moral “common sense” viewed women as having an inferior moral status to men, and some racs as having an inferior status to others. These judgments were not restricted to the philosophically unsophisticated. Such illustrious philosophers as Aristotle and Hume accepted positions of this nature. Many utilitarians (myself included) believe that the interests of sentient non-human animals should be given equal consideration in moral decisions with the interests of humans. This claims certainly conflicts with the “common sense” of many (probably most) humans, and many (perhaps most) philosophers. It should not, on that account alone, be rejected.

Alastair Norcross, ‘The Scalar Approach to Utilitarianism’, in Henry R. West (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Mill’s Utilitarianism, Malden, Massachusetts, 2006, p. 218

Quentin Smith

[T]here may be an even more basic (and perhaps unique) problem that arises due to the highly non-conservative shift in thinking that a transition to quantum cognitive science would require. It may be that quantum ontologies are so ‘strange’ that many, most, or virtually all philosophers find them psychologically impossible to believe. This may be a genetic problem, rather than merely a problem in the lack of intellectual acculturation in quantum ontology.

Quentin Smith, ‘Why Cognitive Scientists Cannot Ignore Quantum Mechanics’, in Smith and Aleksandar Jokic (eds.), Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives, Oxford, 2003, p. 410

David Papineau

It can’t possibly be a good idea to assess philosophical theories by the extent to which they preserve everyday intuitions. The trouble is that everyday intuitions are often nothing more than bad old theories in disguise. Any amount of nonsense was once part of common sense, and much nonsense no doubt still is. It was once absolutely obvious that the heavens revolve around the earth each day, that the heart is the seat of the soul, that without religion there can be no morality, that perception involves the reception of sensible forms, and so on. If philosophy had been forced to respect these everyday intuitions, we would still be in the intellectual dark ages.

David Papineau, ‘The Tyranny of Common Sense’, The Philosophers’ Magazine, no. 34 (April-June, 2006)

George Schlesinger

The purpose of philosophy is to find out by rigorous methods what the truth is. Often its results clash with the common sense view. In such cases it is reasonable to maintain that our relatively unexamined common sense views should be abandoned and give way to the conclusions of rigorous philosophical analysis.

George Schlesinger, ‘Possible Worlds and the Mystery of Existence’, Ratio, vol. 26, no. 1 (1984), p. 10

José Ferrater Mora

El titulado “sentido común” es mucho menos común de lo que parece, en la medida en que no es común a todos los seres humanos en todas las épocas. La historia de la filosofía y de la ciencia ha mostrado que semejante supuesta “facultad” ha experimentado bastantes cambios en el curso de la historia.

José Ferrater Mora, El ser y la muerte: Bosquejo de filosofia integracionista, Madrid, 1988, pp. 27-28