What does it mean to play “Devils Advocate”?


What does it mean to play “Devils Advocate”?

In: Other

It means to play on the side of evil for the sake of needing to know what the negative side of something is. Like if there’s a pro and con side, but everyone is on the pro side. Somebody should play “devil’s advocate” and explain the issue from the con side.

Disagreeing with someone to show the fault in their opinion/argument, and not actually disagreeing with their opinion.

Catholic church had this tradition of nominating saints. They had their defender, God’s advocate, who would try their best at convincing everyone that the person should become a saint. Devil’s advocate on the other hand tried to argue why the person should not become a saint. This way both sides, be or not to be a saint, should have their best arguments presented and the council, after hearing both, could make an informed decision.

These guys were basically like lawyers, and their personal opinions may have been different from the ones they put forth as advocates. They did it because someone had to present the case for not giving sainthood.

And nowdays, the meaning has expanded to mean any situation where one tries to advocate for an idea without actually believing in that idea, in a situation where there is no one available who actually believes in that idea. Like, you consider if you guys should pay this Nigerian prince who promises to make you rich in exchange for a small money transfer fee. You all want free money so obviously you want to send money to the prince, but Bob decides to play devil’s advocate just to be sure, and takes time trying to find out why you guys should NOT be paying this small $10,000 transfer fee. Here Bob is playing Devil’s advocate. He doesn’t think you shouldn’t accept your millions from Nigeria, but he’s entertaining the idea to allow discussion about it

The modern idiom in everyday English means to temporarily argue the opposing point of view, to make sure your preferred side is logically sounds, to explore its consequences, or to poke holes in the opposing. The expression can be used as a disclaimer, meaning something like “I don’t agree with what I’m about to argue, but let’s think it through”.

Example: Imagine you think your boyfriend is cheating. You find his Tinder profile, but he says he’s just trying to meet platonic friends for his Settlers of Catan nights.

Playing the devil’s advocate, what would his profile look like? If he wants to play board games, he would mention that, but it’s not even in the bio. Would he have as many shirtless pics posted as he does? He matched all your best girlfriends, but none of them like boring board games with repetitive “Wood for Sheep!” jokes.

In the example, playing devil’s advocate demonstrates the absurdity of the opposing position – he’s clearly trying to bullshit you.

There is two people who like the color blue. However you can’t really make an argument about both liking the color blue since you both like the color blue. Devils advocate is where one person decides to like the color red for the sake of discussion/argument to prove that red is a better color or to understand why the other person likes the color blue.