opposite of the devil's advocate

babybackribs

Senior Member
US
English/Spanish
Hello all,
I was just reading a book that suggests different business personas and how to bring them alive in yourself.
A main point of the book is that we have to get rid of our Devil's Advocate persona--that voice which naysays new ideas, concepts, etc.
Would there be a word to describe the opposite of the Devil's Advocate? I can't think think of any phrase that is regularly used.
Any thoughts?
Many thanks, bbr
 
  • babybackribs

    Senior Member
    US
    English/Spanish
    The book is The Ten Faces of Innovation.
    I don't need the phrase in the specific context of this book, however.
    Just general thoughts about what the opposite may be, e.g., A mentor, a mediator, etc.
    I'm wondering if there is an already established phrase that people use--either in the business world or elsewhere.
    Thanks!
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    First of all a "devil's advocate" (don't capitalize it) is not a naysayer, per se, as you suggest by referencing the book, which appears to be misleading. (context is always important)

    Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 Oxford University Press:
    devil's advocate
    ▶noun
    • 1 a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.
    So, what you appear to be looking for is a phrase for a person who expresses a supporting opinion (in which he/she does not necessarily believe) in order to avoid testing the strength of an argument.


    I cannot think of any such phrase or idiom.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    So, what you appear to be looking for is a phrase for a person who expresses a supporting opinion (in which he/she does not necessarily believe) in order to avoid testing the strength of an argument.


    I cannot think of any such phrase or idiom.

    Toady? Yes-man?
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The term "devil's advocate" has it origin in the former process of canonizing saints used by the Catholic Church. Formerly, it was conducted almost as an adversarial process: the Promoter of the Cause would present reasons why this or that person should be canonized, while the Promoter of the Faith tried to find flaws in the argument, especially by finding fault with the person whose canonization was being proposed. Because of this, the Promoter of the Faith received the popular name "advocatus diaboli" ("the devil's advocate", in the sense of the devil's lawyer), while the Promoter of the Cause had the popular name "advocatus Dei", or God's advocate.

    The office of the Promoter of the Faith no longer exists, but the nickname lives on. If you are looking for a term for his opposite number, it would be the nickname for the Promoter of the Cause: God's advocate.
     
    Following on from what GreenWhiteBlue has said, the implication behind the term "devil's advocate" was that the prelate appointed by the Vatican to "disprove" the candidate's sanctity did not necessarily believe in what he trying to do. His role was to examine everything cynically but to arrive at an honest conclusion based on what he discovered. In a sense, he was doing the job of an investigative journalist trying to uncover sleaze.

    In the context quoted by babybackribs, I think what is really meant by "devil's advocate" is the little demon that is said to live in all of us, trying to feed us negative thoughts even though they're false or unjustified. The opposite is the positive attitude that takes us forward in life. If you want to personify that attitude with the same sort of imagery as devil's advocate, you could call it something like the adventurous angel. There's no fixed term though. It's a matter of personal choice how far you go in matching the original metaphor.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    For what it is worth, I have never heard of "God's Advocate" before. There might be an obvious reason for that, but I would not use it in your situation, nor outside the context of religion. If I heard someone say it, it would make me wonder a little about it. I tend to agree with SDGraham, that there is no opposite to the devil's advocate as an idiom or set saying. In discussions you will hear someone say, "Let me play the devil's advocate hear and bring up an opposing view", though he may not espouse any such view himself. And you won't hear someone say "let me play the 'opposite' to the devil's advovate".
     

    carping demon

    New Member
    American English
    GreenWhiteBlue, I don't mean to be argumentative, but the first definition of "advocate" in the OED is: "One whose profession it is to plead the cause of anyone in a court of justice." That is clearly the position of a "Promoter of the Cause" and, hence, the opposite of the "advocatus diaboli."
     

    kimsland

    Member
    English
    I can't think think of any phrase that is regularly used
    Would Socratic irony suit? I understand its meaning is in regards to act ignorant to entice your audience to answer questions that you already know.
    But couldn't this also work with the opposite of 'devil's advocate', where the advocate is not merely an advocate, but someone who is pretending not to be? Thus they are acting ignorant of this advocacy, because if they weren't ignorant to the proposal they would merely be an advocate of it, without playing anything.

    "Promoter of the Cause", or 'God's advocate', or even 'advocate', are not antonyms of devil's advocate, because the label is not required or justified.
    Unless you are playing something, like Socratic irony ;) Of which, ironically, fits perfectly well in the Ops quote.

    .
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    The religious meaning is about the origin of the term. But I have never heard the religious meaning. It is not a meaning we use. Here is an explanation of how the term is used:

    For this to happen, someone must express an idea or an opinion. For example "Britain should leave the EU" or "all polar bears like peanut butter". In a conversation about that topic, a "devil's advocate" is someone who takes the opposite opinion in this discussion, not because he disagrees, but simply so that there is someone on both sides of the debate.

    This is often a theory in science. Step 1 is to look at it from all viewpoints, to find any flaws in the theory. For that, someone must be "the devil's advocate": the person trying to disprove the theory. The devil's advocate raises objections (based on science). If those objections cannot be countered, the theory is bad.

    So the "opposite" is a proponent of the theory: someone who argues that the theory is correct.
     
    If a point or proposal is presented, then the person doing so, and presenting reasons and evidence is its advocate. I don't see the issue. As in a court of law, to present and defend a point is not necessarily to profess to the world that you believe it entirely; hence there is a parallel to 'devil's advocate.'.
     

    kimsland

    Member
    English
    So the "opposite" is a proponent of the theory: someone who argues that the theory is correct.
    Oh ok that's actually true, so is advocate in that matter.
    I was thinking more in line with playing a role itself, similar to devil's advocate. But after reading your reply I agree its not playing any role, its just the proponent of the theory: someone who argues that the theory is correct (or the advocate). Ok.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    As usual, bennymix and dojibear are spot on. Playing the role of the devil’s advocate means you are defending an opposing point or advocating against a point without being committed to it – or sometimes either point. It has no religious meaning nor origin other than the fact that a devil is universally accepted as one that opposes all things good, and that concept comes from the Bible and other religion’s texts.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    If "playing the devil's advocate" means you are presenting views that you do not hold, then "believer" would be the opposite (or any synonym of "believer" such as "advocate".
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    It has no religious meaning nor origin other than the fact that a devil is universally accepted as one that opposes all things good, and that concept comes from the Bible and other religion’s texts.
    As I noted eight years ago (my, how time flies ...), the term "devil's advocate" has a well known, well documented, and very specific origin. That origin was the popular nickname for the promotor fidei, or Promoter of the Faith, who was an official who played a major role in process used by the Catholic Church between 1587 and 1983 for the canonization of saints.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Would there be a word to describe the opposite of the ?
    Yes, "an advocate."

    The purpose of a Devil's Advocate, in the literal and extended senses, is to point out faults, either in yourself or in your thoughts and deeds.

    The job of an advocate, in the literal and extended senses, is to point out good points, either in yourself or in your thoughts and deeds.
     

    kimsland

    Member
    English
    If "playing the devil's advocate" means you are presenting views that you do not hold, then "believer" would be the opposite (or any synonym of "believer" such as "advocate".
    You cannot use the word 'believer' as the opposite, as the devil's advocate could be playing the believer himself.
    As soon as I saw (dojibear said:) 'proponent of the theory'. This rang true to what I have noticed in such debates.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    If "playing the devil's advocate" means you are presenting views that you do not hold, then "believer" would be the opposite (or any synonym of "believer" such as "advocate".
    An advocate, e.g. a lawyer, is there to put one side of an argument or that of a third party, whether he believes it or not.
    The Devil's Advocate is somewhat broader:
    OED
    1. Originally: a person who pleads in favour of an evil cause. [Edit: This use pre-dates 2. below by about 150 years] Now usually: a person who expresses a contentious opinion or adopts a particular stance chiefly in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.

    2.
    A person appointed by the Roman Catholic Church to argue the case against a proposed beatification or canonization, or the verification of a miracle. Now historical. [Edit: The position and title was abolished in the 1980s]
     

    kimsland

    Member
    English
    Yes but in all online theist debates the devil's advocate is taking the believer's stance! So you couldn't have the devil's advocate arguing against the believer themselves, because that would be the believer debating the believer! In theist style debates online, the devil's advocate ONLY debates the non-believer. I haven't looked it as 'in favor of the evil cause', I look it as they are on the side of supernatural beliefs. ie the 'Devil' is part of their belief.

    In all online debates, the 'devil's advocate' is playing the role of the theist believer. They are advocating for the devil's propositions.
    Actually I think the structure of propositions and logic and theological debates is unique to common English, its a class on its own.
    The devil's advocate nearly never plays the atheist, because in my view they couldn't!
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Yes but in all online theist debates the devil's advocate is taking the believer's stance!
    The phrase is not limited to theist debates. Regardless, could you give us an example of even one of theses debates (since you know all of them that should be easy for you)?
     

    kimsland

    Member
    English
    The phrase is not limited to theist debates. Regardless, could you give us an example of even one of theses debates (since you know all of them that should be easy for you)?
    Yes extremely easy, I was even Moderator on one of the most common atheist forums in the world.

    I'd much prefer to provide the hypothetical (that which can't be true) of a theist supposedly playing the atheist's role.

    Actual theist (playing devil's advocate). Hmm, I've just realized I don't know all the theist fallacies, because if I did then I wouldn't be a theist!
    Atheist: Lol, a theist trying to play the devil's advocate for promoting atheism, nearly IMPOSSIBLE, as its even against their own beliefs! Plus I agree if they had a good understanding of all the fallacies AND could argue in their favor! They most certainly could not be a theist.

    Maybe that helps? I like placing twist on things it helps the boredom :D

    Theist (playing atheist)
    Did you know there is ZERO sufficient evidence and ZERO good reason to believe in any claimed God, and that all theiest 'proofs' are clear and common known fallacies that even a 10 year old could learn?

    Atheist
    Why the hell are you a believer?

    Theist (playing atheist)
    Hmm, I have no idea, because personal experiences and dreams and feelings aren't actually sufficient evidence. So unless I have cognitive dissonance, then I agree this is nuts :D Lol I mean I can't just guess, because that's the definition of gullibility, believing merely because someone told me!

    And another theist cured. Hooray :)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    When someone play's devil's advocate, the two people having the discussion are on the same side in reality and one person pretends to argue the other side. Your conversations are not examples of this sort of debate.
     

    kimsland

    Member
    English
    When someone play's devil's advocate, the two people having the discussion are on the same side in reality and one person pretends to argue the other side. Your conversations are not examples of this sort of debate.
    I'm saying it is impossible in theistic debates, unless the theist (playing devil's advocate) is discussing one single point.
    Actually I have seen theists discuss things together with one playing the devil's advocate. But saying: There are no Gods, because something comes from nothing < Is deceitful and NOT a true devil's advocate, as no atheist agrees with that.
     

    kimsland

    Member
    English
    You don't understand what it is. That's why you think it's impossible.
    The devil's advocate should be at least able to play the role. I'm saying in this unique setting, that this is impossible if they had all the knowledge..
    Plus I have never seen it (except when they are misleading what atheist's debate).

    The devil's advocate should be at very least able to play the role.

    However, I can perfectly play their role ;)

    I'm going to stop replying on this thread, and bring this up on one of the popular atheist forums.
    I expect that I will be able to link to a new vid about this in a couple of weeks, because actually its a good question that I've never seen brought up before. Is it possible the devil's advocate can be a devil's advocate if they can't?. Its an oxymoron, unless they are not truly playing the role.

    Such things as hundreds of years ago 'devil's advocate' helping to shape the church, in my view was not sincere. ie They weren't playing the role.
    Packard said: [Edit: The position and title was abolished in the 1980s] This is because its impossible now.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Yes but in all online theist debates the devil's advocate is taking the believer's stance!
    It has already been pointed out that, in terms of the Devil's Advocate, religion is neither here nor there.
    usually: a person who expresses a contentious opinion or adopts a particular stance chiefly in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.
    etc.
    This is not too far from the interviews between a politician interviewer on TV every day. The interviewer take the opposite side regardless of his own, personal, beliefs.

    Interviewer: "Minister, you say that you want to give interviewers exemption from all taxes! Surely you see that this will cost the country vast amounts of money... Money that you need for your other policies? That is not good, is it?
    [Minister replies]
    Int: "But why interviewers? Why not charity workers?"
    [Minister replies]
    Int: "And yet opinion polls are against you! This will damage your chances in the forthcoming election!"
    [Minister replies]
    etc.
     
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