1432: The Sake of Argument

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The Sake of Argument
'It's not actually... it's a DEVICE for EXPLORING a PLAUSIBLE REALITY that's not the one we're in, to gain a broader understanding about it.' 'oh, like a boat!' '...' 'Just for the sake of argument, we should get a boat! You can invite the Devil, too, if you want.'
Title text: 'It's not actually... it's a DEVICE for EXPLORING a PLAUSIBLE REALITY that's not the one we're in, to gain a broader understanding about it.' 'oh, like a boat!' '...' 'Just for the sake of argument, we should get a boat! You can invite the Devil, too, if you want.'


Ponytail is trying to get Cueball to consider a hypothetical situation, for the sake of argument. It appears that Cueball is questioning the wisdom of doing so, and postulating that assuming unreal hypotheses for the sake of argument is a stupid thing to do, because it causes more arguments. Ponytail then claims she is playing the Devil's advocate, and Cueball again lambastes her for advocating for somebody as unsympathetic as the Devil.

In a debate or discussion, to play the Devil's advocate is to take a position with which you do not necessarily agree (and typically which no one involved in the argument agrees) to allow further exploration of the subject. As the title text starts to explain, it can be a device used to explore a different viewpoint to gain a wider understanding. Arguing for a view with which you do not agree can provoke a re-evaluation, or conversely a re-affirmation of your previously held view by considering the merits of the potential counter-argument. To be able to play the Devil's advocate convincingly is the mark of a well-rounded debater.

However, Cueball interprets her statement literally, thus assuming she is arguing on the side of the Devil, the religious entity defined as pure evil. Obviously, it would be ill advised to take his side during a debate[citation needed].

Cueball then pulls an ironic twist on Ponytail by revealing that he was questioning Ponytail's argumentative style for the sake of argument himself. The comic actually plays on the double meaning of "argument": Ponytail refers to a statement in a debate while Cueball suggests a quarrel in the last panel.

In the title text, an exasperated Ponytail is trying to explain to Cueball that she is trying to use these debating techniques as a device to explore and broaden her understanding of her reality or a plausible alternative. Cueball derails the conversation, by comparing these attributes to a boat, which also allows you to explore other areas and broaden your experiences and understanding (as mentioned earlier in 209: Kayak). Ponytail is rendered speechless by this statement, and Cueball further suggests that they should get a boat, and that Ponytail can bring the Devil too.


[Ponytail and Cueball are talking.]
Ponytail: Just for the sake of argument, let's say that—
Cueball: —wait, for the sake of what?
[Panel zooms to only show Cueball.]
Ponytail: Argument.
Cueball: Ok, cool, that's totally a good reason to say something that's wrong. Gotta have arguments.
[Panel returns to original view.]
Ponytail: I'm just playing Devil's advocate.
Cueball: Ok. So you saw an argument where one side was the Devil, and you were like "Man, that guy could use an advocate."
Ponytail: It's...why are you being so difficult?
Cueball: For the sake of argument.
Ponytail: Argh!
Cueball: Yay, it's working!
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In my experience when someone begins a hypothetical with "for the sake of argument" The hypothetical being explored is almost always a direct exploration of the argument being put forward by the person they are speaking to, so to my mind the perfect response to the second panel would have been: "You admit you were wrong then, Excellent!" ;-) 07:05, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

In contrast, it is often used alongs the lines of "OK, I see that you don't agree with my viewpoint, so for the sake of argument, pretend that you do agree with my viewpoint". I suppose this is an effort to try and get the other person to explore your views by stepping into them. For example: "Ok I know that you think that drink driving is fine, but for the sake of argument imagine that your dog had just been run over by a drunk driver" --Pudder (talk) 08:53, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

IMHO could be vaguely related to the Monty Python's Argument Clinic Jkotek

IMHO "related" to, no matter how vaguely, would be a strong choice of word. At best, I could imagine "inspired by" - after all, Cueball has barely presented a connected series of statements, much less apparently one intended to establish a proposition, definite or otherwise - it's clearly the automatic gainsaying of anything Ponytail says... Brettpeirce (talk) 10:10, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
No it isn't! ;-) MGitsfullofsheep (talk) 12:19, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
For the sake of argument, say it is. 22:39, 12 October 2014 (UTC)BK

"Rather than getting frustrated at being derailed, Ponytail instead seizes on this and decides they should get a boat, and that the Devil can come too." - I'm reading the title text a bit differently: it's not Ponytail being not angry and chiming in, but actually having no words (indicated by '...') and then it's Cueball again taunting her even more with inviting the devil. Zefiro (talk) 09:03, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

I just wanted to say that I agree with Zefiro here.-- 09:20, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
On reading again, I agree. I missed that the ellipsis was a seperate section, rather than the beginning of 'For arguments sake we should get a boat' --Pudder (talk) 11:27, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Could he possibly be making a pun? "For the sake of the 'ARGH' you meant," perhaps? Joehammer79 (talk) 13:24, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

I think Cueball is taking the "for the sake of argument" too literally, as "in order to create more to argue on". Also "advocate". Also, "device" in the title text (literal physical transportation device vs rhetorical device). The explanation as of now doesn't seem to realize this. Matega (talk) 15:46, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Regarding Devils advocate and copied from Wikipedia: "During the canonization process employed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Promoter of the Faith (Latin: promotor fidei), popularly known as the Devil's advocate (Latin: advocatus diaboli), was a canon lawyer appointed by Church authorities to argue against the canonization of a candidate.[2] It was this person’s job to take a skeptical view of the candidate's character, to look for holes in the evidence, to argue that any miracles attributed to the candidate were fraudulent, and so on. The Devil's advocate opposed God's advocate (Latin: advocatus Dei; also known as the Promoter of the Cause), whose task was to make the argument in favor of canonization. This task is now performed by the Promoter of Justice (promotor iustitiae), who is in charge of examining how accurate is the inquiry on the saintliness of the candidate." -- Cobble (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Are we sure this isn't just Beret Guy going casual? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The "oh, like a boat" is a reference to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. 11:18, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

No it isn't. -Pennpenn 05:17, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

There are two unspoken premises when arguing. The first is that both you and your interlocutor are reasonable (you wouldn't try to reason with someone that is unreasonable, would you?), and the second is that you both agree on some premise (you can't come to a conclusion from a premise you don't have). The usefulness of arguing from a premise that you don't have is that if your premise ever changes (like if you gain new information), then you already have your new conclusion at the ready. It's important because perfectly rational people should agree on the same "if X, then Y", but "reality is X" and "I think reality is X" are two different statements. With that in mind, Devil's Advocate as rhetorical device has an obvious purpose in that it allows you to address your own fallability and to look at the world outside yourself. Claiming to be infallible may not be unreasonable, but it's factually wrong. 14:10, 11 October 2019 (UTC)

The Devil doesn't need an advocate. He advocates his positions quite well on his own. 13:30, 13 June 2023 (UTC)