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Steelmanning is another name for the principle of charity in argumentation that tries to make the strongest possible argument for someone by empathizing with their positive intentions.

Steelmanning gets its name as the opposite of strawmanning. Strawmanning is an argumentation fallacy in which a person’s argument is made into a man of straw – easy to knock down – and then this strawman is argued against instead of what the person really meant. Straw conveys weakness because it’s made from dry plant stalks whereas steel conveys strength because it’s a strong metal alloy.

The main reason we like steelmanning here is its attempt to empathize with other people instead of just trying to win arguments. We hope that steelmanning improves relations between people and helps achieve the best possible world for everyone.

What is Steelman Anything?

Steelman Anything is the movement to try to make the strongest arguments for all sides. Its main home is at https://steelmananything.com/ which is an organized reference and the above definition of steelmanning comes from the introduction topic.

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All of the content of Steelman Anything is open source on GitHub and we welcome issue reports and contributions. All content is licensed in the public domain with the CC0 license.

Who is the main author?

My pen name is Lucius Asclepius.



5 references
  1. (Aikin & Casey, 2011):

    Aikin, S. F., & Casey, J. (2011). Straw men, weak men, and hollow men. Argumentation, 25(1), 87-105. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10503-010-9199-y

  2. (Hansen & Zalta, 2020):

    Hansen, H., & Zalta, E. (Ed.) (2020). Fallacies. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2020 Edition). https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2020/entries/fallacies/

  3. (Hosford, 2012):

    Hosford, W. F. (2012). Iron and Steel. United States: Cambridge University Press. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Iron_and_Steel/7D0gAwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1

  4. (Stevens, 2021):

    Stevens, K. (2021). Charity for moral reasons?–A defense of the principle of charity in argumentation. Argumentation and Advocacy, 57(2), 67-84. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511431.2021.1897327

  5. (Stueber & Zalta, 2019):

    Stueber, K., & Zalta, E. (Ed.) (2019). Empathy. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2019 Edition). https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2019/entries/empathy/