Definition of Straw Man

What does the term "straw man" mean? What is meant when someone says that something is a "straw man argument"?

With a "straw man argument", a person in an argument will misrepresent what the person said that they are arguing with and then argue against the misrepresented position.

The meaning of the term straw man argument.  What is it and what are the examples of it?  Illustration is provided.For instance - person A says they believe that it is important for the United States to have strong military funding, as there are constant dangers that present themselves around the world.

Now, person B uses a "straw man argument" and says "Don't you think it's important that we provide health care to our citizens? Are you in favor of people dying for preventable injuries and diseases?"

Person B is making a "straw man argument", as they are trying to represent that person A doesn't care about health care funding. This is not the case, as person A has not said a word about funding for health care.

In this case, Person B has misrepresented Person A's position. Instead of debating military funding, person B has tried to represent that Person A doesn't want funding for health care.

Another example can occur when one person exaggerates another person's position.

Let's say that Person A believes that the rich should pay higher taxes.

Person B responds by saying - "so you would support the rich paying all of their income to the government?"

Again - this is a straw man argument, as Person B is almost certainly exaggerating Person A's stance.

In these two cases, Person B is trying to build a "straw man" and then knock it down, rather than directly arguing against Person A's true stances.

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