1. Locate a statement confidently described as common sense
Ex. Being virtuous requires money
2. Imagine for a moment that, despite the confidence of the person proposing it, the statement is false. Search for situations or contexts where the statement would not be true.
Ex. Could one ever have money and not be virtuous? Could one ever have no money and be virtuous?
3. If an exception is found, the definition must be false or at least imprecise.
Ex. Is it possible to have money and be a crook? Is it possible to be poor and be virtuous?
4. The initial statement must be nuanced to take the exception into account.
Ex. People who have money can be described as virtuous only if they have acquired it in a virtuous way, and some people with no money can be virtuous when they have lived through situations where it was impossible to be virtuous and make money.
5. If one finds exceptions to the improved statements, the process should be repeated. The truth should be impossible to disprove. It is by finding out what something is not that one comes closest to understanding what it is.
Socrates described a “correct belief” as an opinion if one could not respond to objections. We must understand why something is true, and we must understand why the alternatives are false.
*The Consolations of Philosophy, Alain de Botton