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Ambiguous Weighting and Nonsensical Sense: The Problems of “Balance” and “Common Sense” as Commonplace Concepts and Decision-making Heuristics in Environmental Rhetoric

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Balance and common sense are commonplace concepts used to bring an audience to a place of shared understanding. These commonplaces also function as decision-making heuristics. I argue in this paper that the commonplaces “balance” and “common sense” are problematic because they suggest decision-making strategies that strip associated information of complexity and value. Through an examination of theory and responses to interviews conducted in relation to an ongoing project on environmental rhetoric, I problematize these concepts and consider how awareness of the interaction of these commonplaces and heuristics can benefit rhetors and agencies seeking environmental change.

Keywords: Balance; Common Sense; Decision-making; Environmental Rhetoric; Heuristics; Incommensurability; Public; Rhetoric of Science

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2012

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