Posted: February 13, 2020
Most of you have heard the term “straw man” for an intentionally weak argument. I only recently discovered that the tern “steel man” has become fashionable for the opposite (we’ve also referred to it as “strongman” or “brick man”): restating your opponent’s argument in the strongest possible terms.
Building on that, I propose the term “legoman” for when we explicitly show exactly how the argument is put together, to make it easier for our interlocutors to deconstruct our reasoning and reconstruct alternatives. This is what I call ‘pre-future’ thinking: we don’t claim to have all the answers, but we must present our best current understanding in a way that helps our community evolve better understandings in the future. This is what I see as the heart of the scientific method, and what I am hoping to transplant into the humanities!
That said, the gendering of the term is starting to grate on me. As an alternative, I have started using the term MINFIG: Maximally Informative Narrative For Inspiring Generativity.