A site for skeptics and critical thinkers. Hundreds of real life examples of fallacies, updated regularly. An eBook version of Humbug! The skeptics’ field guide to spotting fallacies in thinking. A weekly podcast on each fallacy: Hunting Humbug 101 – a crash course in shooting down bad arguments. We take fallacies seriously, but not ourselves.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil’s Advocate's role is to be skeptical and to find flaws in the proponent’s case despite the fact that the person playing Devil's advocate often believes the proposition or case that he or she is arguing against. Whether the Devil's Advocate ultimately believes the points he or she is making is irrelevant. This is a process to go through in order to ensure an argument is as flawless as possible (through the proponent's systematic rebuttal of the points made by the Devil's Advocate).
The expression, playing the Devil's Advocate, is also used when someone is arguing "just for the sake of it".
Note the etymology of the Devil’s Advocate is Catholic. It was a real position taken up in order to scrutinise people intended for beatification and canonisation.
Note: my original post has since be edited (and improved) by Jef.
The Skeptic's Field Guide by Theo Clark and Jef Clark is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.