Learning How To Form Logical Arguments: Avoiding “Appeal To Common Sense”

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It can be helpful to learn to do by knowing what not to do. For example, eating better by avoiding sugar as a rule. You won’t be an expert at eating healthier right away, but by avoiding too much sugar as a rule, you will be one step closer to being healthy, even though all your doing is “not doing”.

The same goes for logical arguments. Knowing what logical fallacies to avoid will naturally make you better at being logical and coherent.

Cactico brings you a series explaining what common logical fallacies people make as well as why and how to avoid them.

What is “Appealing to common sense?”

It’s pretty much self-explanatory. Many people assume common sense is a reasonable way to go about things, whether it be in arguments or everyday life situations.

Also known as “argument from incredulity”, appealing to common sense is a subjective point of view that involves making claims based on what feels or appears to be “obvious”.

For example, if you believe that your family members are all flawless and have pure intentions , you therefore reject the idea that they did something horrible simply because “you can’t believe it” or “they would never do it”, even if you have no evidence that they didn’t commit any horrid acts.

This reliance on common sense can backfire. Think of people who believe the earth is flat. We know now that our planet is an oblate spheroid—a sphere that is squashed at its poles and swollen at the equator. But in the past and even some people today “feel” that the earth is flat because they don’t find the opposite to be credible.

Their common sense tells them that if the earth is sphere shaped, then they would fall off the planet if they kept walking in a straight line for a while. This is hilariously false now, but in the past when no one had any proof of earth’s actual shape, it was easy to follow our guts and believe the earth was flat.

This is why it’s important to take common sense with a grain of salt and why it’s even more important to avoid bringing common sense to a logical argument.

Some Formulas That “Appeal to common sense” arguements follow:

– I don’t feel like X is true. Therefore X is false.

– There is no way X is not true; therefore it is true.

– I can’t imagine a world where X is true; therefore X is false.

Any arguments that follow similar patterns are logical fallacies and should be avoided if you wish to form coherent and logical arguments.

We hope you benefitted from this explanation. Please feel free to add anything in the comments that you think needs mentioning.

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