'Intuition pump' is a term coined by Daniel Dennett for a form of rhetoric in which new ideas are framed to highlight key aspects through the use of thought experiments and analogies that make intuitive sense. They are an easy way to make ideas 'feel' understood without going into tiresome detail, although as Dennett is happy to point out, intuition pumps can easily be abused, as they can just as easily highlight intuitions that lead away from the truth.

It is arguable that the term 'intuition pump' is just a lazy way to dismiss the need to actually describe the form of an argument, and it is indeed often used to refer to false analogies, slippery slopes, and other fallacies. It was, in fact, originally coined by Dennett to dismiss Searle's Chinese room argument as incomplete and misleading.

It is also arguable, of course, that a lot of what we hear from politicians and the popular media are intuition pumps, and while we might argue that many of these are vile attempts to subvert the masses, it is also likely that some of these bare-bones but truthiness-filled tales are indeed intended to get us closer to real understanding. This might give 'intuition pump' a useful function in identifying truthy arguments that aren't meant to be inspected critically, but rather judged based on the reliability of the presenter and how easy they are to understand... which is exactly how most people judge most things.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.