Tools for Thinking

I am shamelessly quoting Daniel Dennett at length here, in his formulation of Rapoport’s Rules.

The best antidote I know for [a] tendency to caricature one’s opponent is a list of rules promulgated many years ago by social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport.

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. 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.”

  2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

  3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.