• Yohan
    5
    Maybe I'm not the first to propose this. I haven't heard of it before. The idea is challenging each other to steel man each other's position.
    If I can steel man your position and it's foundation, as good as if I believed it myself, yet not accept it, that should give you pause.
    If you can't steel man me in return, my position AND it's foundation, that should give you pause.
    If neither side can steel man the other, there may be no hope.
    But if one can steel man the other, and not vice versa, I think this may be a good way to establish at least some kind of victory. It would rely on each side being honest if the other succeeded in steel manning. I think this wouldn't be a problem, as being understood is something most of us like and would feel some rapport with the other as a result, so be comfortable admitting they have been steel manned.

    While this doesn't automatically indicate that the person who couldn't steel man their opponent is wrong, it at least warrants telling such a person to study their opponents position more before trying to argue against it.

    If anyone is interested I'd like to have a steel man competition with a materialist, myself being an idealist.

    Cheers
  • Joshs
    21
    If anyone is interested I'd like to have a steel man competition with a materialist, myself being an idealist.Yohan

    Steel manning won’t prove the other wrong because they may interpret their inability to understand your position as a result of faulty reasoning on your part.. They can say your position is incoherent.
    I’m neither a materialist nor an idealist, but I’m game.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    If anyone is interested I'd like to have a steel man competition with a materialist, myself being an idealist.Yohan

    Name one immaterial object and name one thing you know for certain doesn't exist.
  • Cheshire
    12
    It doesn't establish proof because we could both be wrong. It's an interesting take but to steelman a position is protecting it from criticism and ensuring it's errors are never corrected. So, I would argue that we try and tear down our own positions and see what's left. I do think there is a better way to argue and Karl Popper defined it as an attitude that “I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.”
  • Cheshire
    12
    Name one immaterial object and name one thing you know for certain doesn't exist.TheMadFool

    The idea of immaterial objects and one sided coins.
  • T Clark
    28
    The idea is challenging each other to steel man each other's position.Yohan

    I have no idea what "steel man" means in this context.
  • Cheshire
    12
    Rephrase the opposition in such a way that you can not successfully argue against it.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    The idea of immaterial objects and one sided coins.Cheshire

    :ok:
  • T Clark
    28
    Rephrase the opposition in such a way that you can not successfully argue against it.Cheshire

    So, I rephrase your argument as a way of putting myself in your shoes?
  • Cheshire
    12
    So, I rephrase your argument as a way of putting myself in your shoes?T Clark
    Yes, kind of like a double agent. Instead of exploding their argument you improve it. The OP may have something more specific in mind. I'm just giving my take on it. Anything to counter the bias of wanting to win an argument.
  • James Riley
    10
    Maybe I'm not the first to propose this. I haven't heard of it before. The idea is challenging each other to steel man each other's position.Yohan

    If I understand what you are saying, this has been around forever in law schools. I've never heard the term "steel man" though.

    One should always try to be a theoretical advocate for the opposition. Professors will often assign a student to a side, whether the student agrees with that side or not. The student must then put on zealous advocacy for that side. I've watched it change minds. I've also seen an opponent make a better case, and show a better understanding of his opposition than his opposition does. On this very forum I have, in the past, asked an opponent to please make my case for me just so I knew he understood what I was saying. He declined.
  • Cheshire
    12
    If I understand what you are saying, this has been around forever in law schools. I've never heard the term "steel man" though.James Riley

    Steelman is a derivative of strawman as I understand it.
  • Yohan
    5
    Steel manning won’t prove the other wrong because they may interpret their inability to understand your position as a result of faulty reasoning on your part.. They can say your position is incoherent.
    I’m neither a materialist nor an idealist, but I’m game.
    Joshs
    Well they need to question the parts that don't make sense to them until they can form a steel man. Even if the position is incoherent, it should at least have a faux-coherency that they can express. There is going to be a reason they believe, even if it's not good, you should be able to see how they got tricked and why the trick has a convincing allure. If they won't bother to be flexible enough to grasp where the other is coming from, then they lose, and the audience or moderator can vote on this. Of course a close minded person won't admit it

    Name one immaterial object and name one thing you know for certain doesn't exist.TheMadFool
    How might I distinguish a material object from an immaterial object? We have to give a coherent definition of 'material' and 'object'. Objects in our dreams are experienced virtually identically to objects in our waking world, would you agree? I guess I could say any or every object in my dreams are, ultimately, immaterial. And is there a difference between dream objects and other objects? Again, what exactly do we mean by 'object'?
    To your second question. I know I exist, I don't know that anything else exists. At best I may be able to say anything that is self-contradictory
    doesn't exist.

    ↪Yohan It doesn't establish proof because we could both be wrong. It's an interesting take but to steelman a position is protecting it from criticism and ensuring it's errors are never corrected. So, I would argue that we try and tear down our own positions and see what's left. I do think there is a better way to argue and Karl Popper defined it as an attitude that “I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.”Cheshire
    I don't see the need to over exaggerate the power of their argument. I mean being charitable enough to express their point of view as well as you reasonably can. For example, maybe their argument isn't horrible, but they aren't expressing it well, so you express their argument in a clear way...rather than focussing on how it is poorly expressed.
    I agree that the best thing may be to tear down one's own arguments though. The Karl popper thing is ok I guess. I prefer to have some structure
    I have no idea what "steel man" means in this context.T Clark
    I'm saying we should make sure we understand the other before we argue against them, and encourage the other to demonstrate they understand us before we try to defend against their straw man version of our argument.
    One should always try to be a theoretical advocate for the opposition. Professors will often assign a student to a side, whether the student agrees with that side or not. The student must then put on zealous advocacy for that side. I've watched it change minds. I've also seen an opponent make a better case, and show a better understanding of his opposition than his opposition does. On this very forum I have, in the past, asked an opponent to please make my case for me just so I knew he understood what I was saying. He declined.James Riley
    I think it's great for the mind to stretch beyond it's prejudice and bias. Often there may not seem to be a clear answer once one has honestly and vigorously argue from both sides of a position.
  • James Riley
    10
    I think it's great for the mind to stretch beyond it's prejudice and bias. Often there may not seem to be a clear answer once one has honestly and vigorously argue from both sides of a position.Yohan

    It also helps "get down to the nut" and dispense with all the noise, spin, distraction and irrelevant "distinctions without a difference." Once you are down to the nut, argument over that nut becomes WAY more productive.
  • Joshs
    21
    I do think there is a better way to argue and Karl Popper defined it as an attitude that “I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.”Cheshire

    I’d throw out Popper in favor of Kuhn, abandon the idea that we’re aiming to mirror an independent truth , and instead view both positions as valid but pragmatically useful in different ways. To choose one over the other is to make trade-offs in usefulness. The steel man approach may be useful in showing that one side is unable to comprehend the other’s position well enough to pragmatically compare it with their own.
  • Joshs
    21
    Even if the position is incoherent, it should at least have a faux-coherency that they can express. There is going to be a reason they believe, even if it's not good, you should be able to see how they got tricked and why the trick has a convincing allure. If they won't bother to be flexible enough to grasp where the other is coming from, then they lose, and the audience or moderator can vote on this. Of course a close minded person won't admit itYohan

    I’m not talking about when the other person’s position really is incoherent. I’m saying when we disagree with someone’s point of view, it is often because the worldview grounding that position is incomprehensible to us. We then have no choice e to see it as either an outdated version of our own position or incoherent.

    Good lord, why does everyone miss the absolutely most central feature of differences in scientific theories, political positions , ethical schemes? You make a colossal mistake in not recognizing that grasping where the other is coming from is the single most difficult thing to do. 99% of the threads on this form concerning racism, gender politics, rationality vs irrationality , logic vs emotion , morality in general and scientific progress would not exist if people realized the monumental difficulty of seeing the world from another person’s perspective rather than impugning the other’s motives ( they’re lazy, deliberately misreading my position , ‘not bothering to be flexible’, ‘close-minded’, racist, emotional, irrational, indoctrinated , lying , etc ). The reason foe the enormous difficulty in achieving this empathy is that worldviews are extremely complex and therefore only can change slowly. Most don’t even have a way to recognize that they operate on the basis. of worldviews. Popper himself didn’t realize it , and empirical scientist , being realists for the most part, still tend to think of evidence as ‘out there’ rather than an interpretative product of worldviews.

    To to be clear, I’m not talking about disputes over relatively minor features of a scientific model. These can certainly b lead to both sides coming to see the other side’s argument. But as soon as we find ourselves in the terrain of abstract ideas , political principles , religious and philosophical concepts , in almost all cases incomprehension of the others views will predominate but be masked by accusations of bad or lazy intent.
  • Cheshire
    12
    I’d throw out Popper in favor of Kuhn, abandon the idea that we’re aiming to mirror an independent truth , and instead view both positions as valid but pragmatically useful in different ways. To choose one over the other is to make trade-offs in usefulness. The steel man approach may be useful in showing that one side is unable to comprehend the other’s position well enough to pragmatically compare it with their own.Joshs
    I've got 99 problems with this; the first being I'm a Popper fan boy from hell. Assuming anything about a position before hearing it seems to be making unnecessary assumptions. Choosing one over the other is how evolution functions. To decide not to choose 1 or neither; again at the onset seems like adopting a blind assumption. Discussing the usefulness of an unknown also seems suspect. I still think we're in a type of competition of sorts the way it is phrased.

    Are you suggesting we prove the opposition doesn't understand what we are talking about well enough to assert we are wrong? Is this the course being navigated?
  • Cheshire
    12
    I don't see the need to over exaggerate the power of their argument. I mean being charitable enough to express their point of view as well as you reasonably can. For example, maybe their argument isn't horrible, but they aren't expressing it well, so you express their argument in a clear way...rather than focussing on how it is poorly expressed.
    I agree that the best thing may be to tear down one's own arguments though. The Karl popper thing is ok I guess. I prefer to have some structure
    Yohan

    I think this is reasonable.
  • Joshs
    21
    Are you suggesting we prove the opposition doesn't understand what we are talking about well enough to assert we are wrong? Is this the course being navigatedCheshire

    Yes, we prove it to ourselves. Then we can stop wasting our time focusing on surface details of our model ( which is like arguing biblical verses without knowing through what perspective of faith the other is reading the bible ) and try and make its deeper plumbing understandable to the other.
  • Cheshire
    12
    Yes, we prove it to ourselves. Then we can stop wasting our time focusing on surface details of our model ( which is like arguing biblical verses without knowing through what perspective of faith the other is reading the bible ) and try and make its deeper plumbing understandable to the other.Joshs
    Subjective proof is pretty cheap in the world. Have you ever considered an objective argument where the goal is to discover what other fact or matter must also be in disagreement. It forces the process through a lateral flow of logic toward agreement regarding a disagreement.
  • Joshs
    21
    Subjective proof is pretty cheap in the world. Have you ever considered an objective argument where the goal is to discover what other fact or matter must also be in disagreement. It forces the process through a lateral flow of logic toward agreement regarding a disagreement.Cheshire

    Objective proof is an illusion, since the object must be interpreted via language and there is no intersubjective translation manual, so say Quine, Putnam, Sellers and Davidson and Rorty. For most limited practical
    purposes within scientific and technical domains, such issues are hidden, and we can proceeds as though the object were identical for all to potentially see. but they become major obstacles in the social sciences and philosophy, where the subjective basis of all ‘objects’ becomes apparent .
  • Cheshire
    12
    Objective proof is an illusionJoshs
    Yeah, I'm using it in a relative sense. The secondary goal would be searching for a point of agreement that is itself expected to be a point of disagreement if done correctly. The parties are no longer out to prove each other is correct rather deviated at the same logical point. So, objective or less bias whichever you prefer.
  • Joshs
    21
    The parties are no longer out to prove each other is correct rather deviated at the same logical point. So, objective or less bias whichever you prefer.Cheshire

    So a triangulation on an inter-subjectively negotiated point of intersection? Sounds very hermeneutic.
  • Cheshire
    12
    So a triangulation on an inter-subjectively negotiated point of intersection? Sounds very hermeneutic.Joshs
    Well put. It's been a hard sell.
  • James Riley
    10
    It's funny how hard people will try to understand a given point of view when they are getting paid big money to win on it and when the other side will make a fool of you if you don't know WTF you are talking about.
  • Manuel
    7
    @James Riley @T Clark

    To steelman an argument is to present the argument in the best possible formulation. In a sense it's presenting your opponents argument in an even stronger manner than he or she would state it.

    The idea being that once you give the best possible version of such an argument, you can proceed to show why it is defective, even when presented in this manner.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    How might I distinguish a material object from an immaterial object? We have to give a coherent definition of 'material' and 'object'. Objects in our dreams are experienced virtually identically to objects in our waking world, would you agree? I guess I could say any or every object in my dreams are, ultimately, immaterial. And is there a difference between dream objects and other objects? Again, what exactly do we mean by 'object'?
    To your second question. I know I exist, I don't know that anything else exists. At best I may be able to say anything that is self-contradictory
    doesn't exist.
    Yohan

    Some of the issues you raise seem like waypoints that should've already been passed to discuss materialism vs idealism. You know, like what "object" and "material" mean.

    Anyway, you bring up an important topic in this debate - dreams, by extension the mental phenomenon known as hallucination. Granted that as the great idealist George Berkeley claimed, "esse est percipi" (to exist is to be perceived), dreams & hallucinations demonstrate that,

    1. To be perceived is to exist is false.

    Returning to Berkeley's statement, it implies,

    2. to not be perceived is to not exist. (note this statement).

    Coming to what "immaterial" means, off the top of my head I can say, to be material is to be perceived. That means,

    3. To not be perceived is to be immaterial.

    Compare statements 2 and 3 above. If not perceived then, either nonexistent or immaterial. In other words, there's no difference between nonexistence and immaterial. That's why I asked you to name one immaterial object and one nonexistent object, secretly hoping that you might just pull it off but I wasn't holding my breath if you know what I mean. Basically, idealism can't tell the difference between nonexistence and immaterial and that isn't good, right?

    If you feel that following should be true,

    a) To be immaterial is to not be perceived, you'd have to agree that,

    b) To be perceived is to be material, is true

    Idealism can't/won't accept b.

    Let's summarize,

    1. To be perceived is to exist [false]. Dreams, hallucinations. So, to be perceived is either to exist or to not exist.

    2. To not be perceived is to not exist.

    3. To not be perceived is to be immaterial

    4. Either perceived or not perceived

    Ergo [from 1, 2, 3, 4],

    5. Either (to exist or to not exist) or (to not exist or to be immaterial)

    Simplifying 5,

    6. To exist OR not to exist OR to be immaterial

    The bottom line is, whether you perceive or not, you can't tell the difference between existence, nonexistence, and the immaterial. :chin:

    Hence, Descartes' cogito ergo sum.

    As for the nonexistence of the self-contradictory, I agree but that definition doesn't seem relevant to idealism & materialism.
  • TonesInDeepFreeze
    10
    This subject sounds interesting.

    First, though, it's important to be clear on the differences between (1) proof or demonstration or inference, (2) debate, and (3) cooperative inquiry.

    Question: Is it merely a matter of demonstrating understanding of your opponent's argument and being articulate to present it well? Or should you also strive to make an even better argument with more facts and better logic?

    Only vaguely related, I heard a good joke today: "I got a college degree, but I didn't learn anything. I had a double major in Psychology and Reverse Psychology."
  • Yohan
    5

    We have such little point of agreement that I think you even disagree that we have little point of agreement. I feel as much hope trying to convince you against materialism as I would trying to convince someone the world doesn't rest on the back of a giant turtle.
    IOW, whenever you say "matter" I think of an extraneous thing like a turtle, that is premised to exist and be necessary without justification.
  • Yohan
    5
    First, though, it's important to be clear on the differences between (1) proof or demonstration or inference, (2) debate, and (3) cooperative inquiry.TonesInDeepFreeze
    Are you suggesting we clarify that here, or are you saying that we should establish which of those we are using as a goal and framework?
    Question: Is it merely a matter of demonstrating understanding of your opponent's argument and being articulate to present it well? Or should you also strive to make an even better argument with more facts and better logic?TonesInDeepFreeze
    I don't know if there is a rule. I focus more on clarity than adding substance. The latter is hard to do if I believe the argument is lacking in substance. Its harder to do than I thought.
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