devil's advocate

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devil's advocate

One who argues against or attacks an idea, argument, or proposition—even if one is in favor of it—for the sake of debate or to further examine its strength, validity, or details. Refers to the "Advocatus Diaboli," a person employed by the Catholic Church to argue against the canonization of a saint (and therefore help determine if that person is truly worthy of sainthood). I'm all for universal health care, but let me be the devil's advocate for a moment. How do you propose the government fund such a massive undertaking? Tom always plays devil's advocate in any given conversation because he loves picking apart other people's arguments.
See also: advocate

devil's advocate

One who argues against a cause or position either for the sake of argument or to help determine its validity. For example, My role in the campaign is to play devil's advocate to each new policy before it's introduced to the public . This term comes from the Roman Catholic Church, where advocatus diaboli (Latin for "devil's advocate") signifies an official who is appointed to present arguments against a proposed canonization or beatification. It was transferred to wider use in the mid-1700s.
See also: advocate

a/the devil’s ˈadvocate

a person who argues against something, even though they really agree with it, just to test the arguments for it: Helen doesn’t really think that women shouldn’t go out to work. She just likes to play devil’s advocate.
See also: advocate
References in periodicals archive ?
There are a variety of possible directions for future scholarly research about the role of the devil's advocate in the process of innovation.
Second, scholars might examine the origin of the devil's advocate role.
Third, researchers might investigate various communication choices used to perform the role of the devil's advocate in innovation processes.
In such circumstances, the devil's advocate acts, in effect, as a good trial lawyer, presenting his or her arguments against the majority position as convincingly as possible.
Rather than one person playing a solitary devil's advocate, another option is to form a board committee to play the role.
Second, the chairperson may wish to assign one or more directors to play the role of devil's advocate in important decisions in which there is apparent unanimity among the board.
* The devil's advocate should avoid becoming a carping critic but should play the role of a process consultant interested only in improving the decision by identifying questionable assumptions.
* The devil's advocate should seek information from outside experts who are not members of the board.