See also: Steelman

English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

steel +‎ -man. For the second definition, possibly coined as the inverse of straw man.

Noun edit

steelman (plural steelmen)

  1. A steelworker.
  2. A stronger version of an argument that one is about to critically analyze.
    Antonym: strawman
    • 2011 October 24, Luke Muehlhauser, “Better Disagreement”, in LessWrong[1]:
      a "steel man" is an improvement of someone's position or argument that is harder to defeat than their originally stated position or argument.
    • 2012 July 7, Guy Srinivasan, “Wireheading Steelman”, in lw-seattle[2] (Usenet):
      I want to make that strawman into a steelman, but I eliminated "the pursuit of happiness" from my to-do list so many years ago that I don't even know where I'd begin.

Verb edit

steelman (third-person singular simple present steelmans, present participle steelmanning, simple past and past participle steelmanned)

  1. To repair flaws in an argument before analyzing it critically; to refute or to weaken the force of a stronger version of an argument than what was actually given.
    • 2012 July 7, Guy Srinivasan, “Wireheading Steelman”, in lw-seattle[3] (Usenet):
      I don't agree with the argument, because of 4. If I were to steelman it, which I may try but after work or maybe during lunch, I would first try to make it impervious to this assault:
    • 2015 February 11, Daniel Armak, “Re: volunteers for feb 24.”, in LessWrong Tel Aviv[4] (Usenet):
      It is possible that while preparing for the talk I will manage to convince myself that the problem is in fact resolved or dissolved. In that case I will treat you to my best steelmanning of the problem, and its resolution.
    • 2015 June 18, rndn, “Going Deeper into Neural Networks”, in Hacker News[5] (Usenet):
      Perhaps the argument should be steelmanned in that we should generally avoid using algorithms which are so complex that they aren't glass boxes.
    • 2017 June 26, Conor Friedersdorf, “The Highest Form of Disagreement”, in The Atlantic[6]:
      And America would benefit if our culture of argument elevated the opposite approach, steel-manning, “the art of addressing the best form of the other person’s argument, even if it’s not the one they presented.”

See also edit

Anagrams edit