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Don’t be fooled by “common sense”

Interviews | ByKevin C. Brown | Elections, History, Politics

Sept. 12, 2012 — Sophia Rosenfeld is a professor of history at the University of Virginia. She is the author, most recently, of “Common Sense: A Political History,” where she explored the origins of “common sense” in our political vocabulary. Rosenfeld’s work not only reconstructed the roots of the concept — it emerged over 100 years before Thomas Paine’s iconic 1776 pamphlet — but suggested how throughout its career, the term gave citizens a shared language for arguing over politics, while, at the same time, it limited the boundaries of those debates. Today, politicians continue to deploy the term “common sense” in speaking to citizens. How do we decode their appeals?

This interview was originally recorded in Oct. 2011 as part of the History for the Future project. Then based at radio station WRCT in Pittsburgh, History for the Future is now a production of Remapping Debate. Over the coming months, some existing episodes will be reintroduced here and entirely new interviews presented. The full back catalog of History for the Future episodes will migrate to Remapping Debate by the end of October; in the meantime, they can be found here.

 

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