Seen on Taking Liberties, Simon Clark being fisked by some anti:
“Parents must be allowed to use their common sense, and most of the time they do. There is no need for further regulation.”
Yes there is. 16% have no common sense and their drug addiction clearly takes priority over their children’s health.
What’s common sense? In my use of it, it’s what most people personally experience – what they see, hear, touch, etc – , and the judgments they draw from that experience, usually in common with most other people.
And my common sense view of smoking around children is that it’s entirely harmless, because my father was a smoker throughout my childhood (and my mother was an occasional social smoker), and so were lots of other people, and I suffered no ill effects whatsoever from their smoke. Nor did any other children that I knew of. That was our common, shared experience.
Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” Thus, “common sense” (in this view) equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, “the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way”.
So what’s this ‘common sense’ that smokers seem to lack? It may not mean ‘personal experience’ but instead ‘common opinion’ As with Cicero:
In Cicero, common sense was the common practice, custom, speech, views, and mentality of the crowd whose tastes the orator had to take into account if he were to influence them
Seen in that light, in a world in which a great many people believe that firsthand smoke is very dangerous, and secondhand smoke is almost as bad, smokers indeed have no ‘common sense’, in that they disregard common opinion.
Smokers, it might be said, trust their own judgment above the judgment of others. They rely on their common sense experience of life, and not upon common opinion, however insistent that might be.
And in the case of smoking, common sense is at odds with common opinion.
Rather than smokers having no common sense, it might better be said that they’re more or less the only people who have any left.
I know which I’ll stick with. But it always surprises me how many people will readily ditch common sense in favour of received wisdom from assorted authorities and experts.