The idea of "common sense" seems to imply that certain judgments are "sound" insofar as they are held by the majority of individuals (i.e. the common).
According to Ayn Rand in the Virtue of Selfishness, pg 72:
It seems that "common sense" would mean to substitute collective judgment for the "ruthless" process of objective/rational thought done by the individual.
The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. 1, No. 5 December 6, 1971 Don't Let It Go--Part II
In this sense, common sense is not "sound" because it is held by the majority of individuals, it is knowing things like water runs downhill, taking care around sharp objects, being careful with and around fire. It allows for the application of principles derived from concrete observations.
These views are held by the majority of individuals, not by substituting another's judgement for their own, but because it would be absurd to suggest that a broken egg on the floor is going to assemble itself together and fly up from the floor onto the counter, or that a water balloon can be used to hammer a nail into the wall to hang a picture.
answered Oct 23 '12 at 16:26
One of the problems with the term "common sense" is that it is used to mean so many different things. To name just a few:
(1) the most common modes of thinking and/or conclusions manifesting in a given population;
(2) modes of thinking and/or conclusions accessible to someone having an average level of reasoning ability, the average being drawn across the entire population;
(3) modes of thinking and/or conclusions accessible to someone having an average level of reasoning ability, the average being drawn across some limited segment of the population (e.g., the reasoning of the "common folk", where the user gets to fill the vacuous term "common" with whatever group he favors--blue collar workers, the poor, the simple, some ethnic group, whatever);
(4) modes of thinking and/or conclusions accessible to someone having the minimum level of reasoning ability of a functioning human;
(5) gut feelings/hunches/intuition (i.e., beliefs with an uncountable source);
(6) beliefs that are gained independent of "formal" education or processes;
Even if we stipulated a given meaning for the term for purposes of this question, I do not believe that the term is a "collectivist term" per se (although it is clearly a problematic term, if not an outright anti-concept). The above noted meanings, and others that could be listed, are merely descriptive and not normative. They certainly do not necessarily come from, indorse, or imply the theory of collectivism. People's evaluation of "common sense" (whether an explicit evaluation or just the implicit connotation people have associated with the term), on the other hand, is often based on collectivist premises. For example, as noted in your question, if one assumes that "common sense" is good merely because it is represents a majority, then that is based on a collectivist premise that the majority is the standard of the good. Similarly, if one believes that the "reasoning"/conclusions of a given group constitute "common sense" and that they are good merely because they represent the group, that would be based on a collectivist premise. However, other possible meanings of the term and their associated evaluations are not necessarily collectivist--for example, if "common sense" means gut feelings/hunches/intuition, and if one evaluates this to be a good thing, this does not seem to me to be based on any collectivist notions. (It is, however, based on a different evil premise that often accompanies collectivism--mysticism) Thus, some evaluations of the term are collectivistic, and others are not. But the term is so problematic that I avoid it.
answered Oct 24 '12 at 21:56