is a phrase often used in the English speaking world. It refers to when, for the sake of debate, a person presents a point of view that they don't necessarily agree with just to make another consider an opposing point of view. In more colloquial terminology, it can refer to when you say something you don't believe to mess with someone, for the sake of it or playful demeaneour. An example of this would be if you were to see an atheist
and a Muslim
having a debate about whether or not God
existed, and you, whatever your own beliefs, argue from a deist
standpoint, simply to see their reaction. Another example would be on a mostly pro-choice
forum, pretending to be pro-life
to try and see how their arguments measure up. This is similar to real-life trolling
, but not exactly the same: the person utilizing the devil's advocate usually admits afterwards or in the middle of discussion that they are just playing and is trying to put across an opposing view, and a troll is being simply an asshole
who simply wants to be malicious, without revealing their true viewpoints, because a debate isn't their motivation.
The term originally referred to the Roman Catholic cardinal charged with arguing against a potential saint's canonization, before the role was greatly reduced by Pope John Paul II, though the Church does still often seek out opposing counsel during the canonization process.
 See also