to steel man


to strongly defend an opponent's argument

TRANSLATION

to steel man an opponent's argument = das Argument eines Gegners zu wiederholen und zu verstärken, bevor man die eigene (Gegen-) Position darstellt

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

"I've recently learned about a term called "steel manning" (as opposed to 'straw manning', the more common form of discourse) and I do try to stick with that. Of course, the bar in STEEL MANNING is very high, so I have to figure out if it's worth it to me and to the other, and so on."

Quora

Did you
know?

to steel man (steel-man)
phrasal verb

- to represent an opponent's argument in its strongest form before attempting to rebutt it oneself

(P.S.)

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STEEL MANNING & Beyond

The philosopher Daniel Dennett outlines a 4-step process which begins with steel manning:

(1) Attempt to re-express the other person’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that they say, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

(2) List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

(3) Mention anything you have learned from your counterpart.

(4) Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Steel manning may sound subtle, but it's very powerful. You don’t just present your counter-objection straight away. (You don’t just say, “You’re wrong. Here’s the right answer.”)

Instead, you first demonstrate that you understand the other person’s objection, you demonstrate that it’s valid, and then you explain why your counter-objection is a level of thinking deeper, not shallower, than the other person’s. (You effectively say, “I understand what you think, and why, but if you think further…”)

This approach allows the other person to save face and not have to backtrack their thinking (which no one likes to do). At no point are they proven wrong; they just arrive at your verdict through extended thinking.

Sources: Rapoport's Rules, Daniel Dennett, conversion-rate-expert

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Practice OWAD in a conversation today or over the weekend
say something like:

"Let me be sure I understand your point. Can I try to STEEL-MAN your position?"

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