Why Sam's fan think Jordan Peterson is an educated Christian's Deepok Chopra

an improvement of someone's position

The difference is that this means by necessity that if you are steelmanning a person's position you are no longer arguing against their actual position/arguments. You have changed the other person's argument to make it better and are no longer responding to the person so much as you are responding to the core question, as you lay out.

So again, you can either strawman (misrepresent and make the argument worse) or steelman (misrepresent and make the argument better) or you can just represent the argument correctly.

I have said this many times.

If your conception is an arbitrary strengthening of someones argument, into something they did not say, that's not the steel man. That's playing devil's advocate.

No no, that is steelmanning! That's exactly what it is! It's playing devil's advocate so that when you argue back you are arguing against an argument you have already vetted! That's what makes it charitable!

If we are being precise, playing devil's advocate is actually making such an argument for funsies, directed at someone else you agree with. Steelmanning is when you play devil's advocate in your head to yourself so that you can suss out what you think the best defenses of the "core concept" would be. It's pre-vetting in order to have a productive conversation, and not letting your opponent go down rabbitholes you know you'll slam dunk them on.

However, it is totally possible to just argue with someone on their own terms without misrepresenting any of their points, thereby neither steel- nor straw-manning. This has been my point for all of these comments.

/r/samharris Thread Parent