A method of discussing topics by definition.

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A method of discussing topics by definition.

I was wondering if anyone on here is ever tried to use the definitions instead of the words themselves to prevent a person from making strawman arguments.  Like instead of saying evolution you describe in detail what you are talking about and never say the word evolution.  I thought this would be a pretty good way to disarm someone of the strawman making.

Any success?  Or Ideas?

Sounds made up...
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 Well, I can report one


Well, I can report one thing that seems to work. It is not quite what you seem to have in mind but it might relate.


When I accuse a theist of posting a strawman, I seem to get a reply along the lines of “I did not do that” or “that is not a strawman”. General crap like that. When that happens, I tend to think that the other person does not even know what they did wrong. Rather, they are gripped with the idea that they can do no wrong thing and therefore, they need to reply like that.


On the other hand, if I sat something along the lines of “well, you did not address what I said, rather you created some parody of what I say and then addressed that”, then the response is often different. I have not had a recent strawman that I can easily cite but done that way, I have had some success at getting the other person to think about what they actually did. Then I may get a better response.

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I think it's often a very

I think it's often a very good way to break through the usual word-salad arguments that go nowhere.

Another good example is when discussing free will and determinism, instead of just using those words, you explain exactly what you mean.

I find that people on opposing sides often have caricatured versions of what the 'alternative' to their personal favourite theory is, and they simply argue against this caricature. The caricature is a handy short-hand for remembering what you find so convincing about your own theory. But it obviously can lead to a blindness to other possibilities that are superior to both your favourite theory and the caricature.

For example, in theistic dualism vs. modern materialism, this problem is apparent in spades. The theistic dualist is convinced of their theory because it is obvious to them that we are not 'just' wind up toys with no minds of our own. Therefore, they create a caricature of materialism as saying that the universe is like a big wind up toy and there's no such thing as a mind. This is easy to argue against, but it has no impact on a modern materialist, who doesn't believe in such a naive and simplistic theory as that.

The materialist, on the other hand, is convinced of their theory because it is obvious to them that there is no need for magical guiding hands to circumvent the laws of physics to produce the complexity of the universe. And so, they may sometimes create a caricature of theistic dualism that a 'soul' must necessarily be a non-physical magical entity for which there could never be any evidence, and so it is ridiculous to postulate its existence.

When I advocate the use of the word physicalism, it is to break out of this time-wasting black-hole of argumentation. This is to use a new word to accomplish much of what you're talking about in the OP, to bypass misunderstood words and go deeper to the definitions.

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 I've found that while it

 I've found that while it should be the right method, it fails completely, and on emotional grounds. If someone is already open to thinking about something, and exploring it reasonably, then the method you use to argue becomes less important. When the argument is already emotional, the method seems to impart new meanings, like having the person think you're being snobby because you're explaining things.

At least, that's what I've found. Ideally, it would be great if people listened first, then thought, and then responded, but that kind of interaction can be a rare experience.

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Hey Natural,

     Check out "Hot for Words" on YouTube.