Frank’s Blog : Avoiding Bad Arguments

Farnam Street newsletter that came out on Sunday May 10th; they published a great article on How To Avoid Bad Arguments. Here is what stuck with me:

In Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinkingthe philosopher Daniel Dennett offers some general guidelines for using the principle of charity, formulated by social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
  1. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  1. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  1. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.


” He who knows only his side of the case knows little of that.”

∼ John Stuart Mill