Currently I'm using the phrase "Operating on the premise that". Here's an example:

Operating on the premise that the God depicted in the Old Testament is real, I would provide a sacrificial lamb.

I want to be able to talk about this practice in the abstract.

When I am [new abstraction]ing, I'm able to empathize better and learn from my new frame of mind.

I could establish an acronym (OOPT) and refer to the practice as OOPTing but I feel like logicians or writers must have already solved this, as it's a fundamental behaviour in a lot of practices.

  • I feel like it's a specific subset of speculation, maybe? Speculation would certainly include behaviours that do not apply, like predicting the outcome of an election.
    – to_json
    Nov 6, 2015 at 17:00
  • 1
    I'd call it "devil's advocate".
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 6, 2015 at 17:06
  • 1
    assume, stipulate, concede, presume
    – brian_o
    Nov 6, 2015 at 22:23
  • This has been great, a lot of good answers. Thank you folks!
    – to_json
    Nov 11, 2015 at 15:04
  • @brian_o - You forgot "postulate" that also also matches.
    – Graffito
    Nov 13, 2015 at 12:34

7 Answers 7


Let me additionally suggest the term "arguendo": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arguendo.

You can also simply start your sentence with "Assuming...".

Google Ngram for "arguendo":

enter image description here

  • 1
    I am going to let this sit for a while but odds are good I will accept this answer, as 'arguendoing', while ungrammatical, suits my purposes. Probably I could go figure out the correct conjugation, too.
    – to_json
    Nov 6, 2015 at 21:10

"For argument's sake" is, in my experience, a common idiom and, in fact, has been used as the title of at least one book.

A slight variation is "For the sake of argument" which was addressed in xkcd #1432 (see an explanation here). The title text on the image states in part:

...it's a DEVICE for EXPLORING a PLAUSIBLE REALITY that's not the one we're in, to gain a broader understanding about it.

Additionaly, the Oxford Dictionary offers the following definition for the later (but does not list the former):

As a basis for discussion or reasoning.

According to Google Ngrams, the latter seems to be more common.

enter image description here

The aforementioned comic also makes mention of "playing devil's advocate".


I commonly hear it put as playing the devil's advocate.

In common parlance, a devil's advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position they do not necessarily agree with (or simply an alternative position from the accepted norm), for the sake of debate or to explore the thought further.

Devils Advocate Wikipedia article

Google Ngrams seem to also be popular, so here's one.

comparison of arguendo, for argument's sake, and devil's advocate


Consider, premising.


: (used with object) to assume, either explicitly or implicitly, (a proposition) as a premise for a conclusion.

: (used without object) to state or assume a premise. Random House


Supposing that the God depicted in the Old Testament is real, I would provide a sacrificial lamb.

I think this fits quite well in sentences where the assumption of a premise is being made. However, I don't think it works very well for talking about assuming a premise:

When I am supposing, I'm able to empathize better and learn from my new frame of mind.

Perhaps that can be worked around through a rephrasing:

Suppositions allow me to empathize better and learn from my new frame of mind.

ngram- supposing, for the sake of argument


If you're doing it for the purposes of setting it up to completely knock down later, it's called a "Straw Man" argument.

A "Devil's Advocate" is probably the most correct, but in common usage sometimes people go with the completely informal "Let's just say...."


Certain interpretations of "Rhetoric" seem to fit your requirements. Certainly politicians will feign belief for the purpose of constructing an argument favorable to them.

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