In her new book, Common Sense: A Political History (see here for in-depth review and author’s response), Sophia Rosenfeld points out the diverse ways common sense has been used throughout history as well as what it actually stands for.

The novelty of her endeavour comes from placing common sense in historical context – as a phenomenon it has already been much discussed elsewhere, most notably in Everything is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails by Duncan J. Watts (see here for a lengthy interview with the author).

As Rosenfeld points out, the use of the idea of ‘common sense’ in American politics goes back to Thomas Paine, while as this interview with Sarah Palin shows, the battle to assume the mantle of the ‘common-sense’ politician continues to this day.