The Devil’s Advocacy Initiative

The Devil’s Advocacy Initiative

The Devil’s Advocacy Initiative explores how to counter polarization by empowering Americans to critically assess our own worldviews, while still honoring our own truths and lived experiences. This initiative is collaboration between the Aspen Institute’s Program on Citizenship and American Identity, created to help promote a shared sense of national identity and civic purpose, and the Fetzer Institute, whose mission is to help build the spiritual foundation for a loving world.

Around the country, you may have noticed a great deal of work underway to get people who disagree to seek common ground. We applaud such efforts, but we also believe there is a deeper need going largely unaddressed: for each of us to push ourselves, and those with whom we do agree, to deactivate the triggers and reflexes we succumb to when encountering people of differing worldviews. These types of skills and dispositions are the necessary precursors for any lasting reckoning and reconciliation in civic life.

We believe we each have power to reduce demonization and to counter polarization by critically assessing our own worldviews. Importantly, this practice is not designed to change your mind, or to dismiss your lived experience. Rather, it provides space and structure to tend to your worldviews in a way we are typically not afforded in our everyday lives. 

Our Approach
We are creating a workbook, designed to be used individually or with a group. Part one of this workbook, “Articulating Your Worldview”, will focus on unpacking your core beliefs and assumptions about the world. Part two, “Challenging Worldviews”, will involve challenging your own beliefs by clarifying your statements, identifying your assumptions, providing evidence, considering alternatives, and evaluating consequences. Part three, “Making Commitments” will include reflection and decisions about how you want to move forward. Throughout the workbook, there will be time for contemplative practices and reflections to help users understand themselves and others more deeply. This workbook will be available soon. 

Interested in being involved?