The Rogerian Essay
For this assignment you will use Rogerian Argument to persuade your opposition that your position can be valid through the use of compromise. In other words, the audience for this paper will be those who oppose your position. Follow the following four-step format (NOTE: The four-step process does not mean four paragraphs! Your essay should be at least seven paragraphs long, approximately 1000+ words):
- Generically introduce the topic and show how it affects those on both sides of the argument. This should be done in such a way that DOES NOT show bias toward your position regarding the problem or issue. This section explains or depicts the issue while making sure not to influence the audience or reveal your position. Both sides in the argument should agree with this section of the essay.
- Identify your opposition’s point of view and explain it empathetically. This section of the essay should show that you understand your opponent’s position and can present it in such a way that does not attack or refute your audience’s point of view. This section also shows in which contexts and under what conditions elements of the opponent’s position may be valid. This part of the essay should show which part of the opponent’s position you could agree with. Many times it is simply the acknowledgement that the opposition does have valid points! Remember, this part of Rogerian Argument is absolutely critical!
- State your own position and explain the contexts in which your position is valid. This section should present your position in terms that will not alienate your audience. Be careful not to make the opponent feel “wrong.”
- Show that there is common ground between the two positions. Explain how your opponent’s position will benefit if they adopt elements of your own position. This section shows that the two positions complement each other and that each supplies what the other lacks. Try to reach a compromise that might solve the problem to the satisfaction of both sides.
Four full pages
What is Rogerian Argument?
Usually, when we think of argument, we think of winners and losers. This tradition goes back to classical models of argument and our own negative connotations of the word – argument. However, arguments do not have to assume that the audience must make a yes/no decision. Rather than persuading our audience to think the same way we do, sometimes it is better to build toward consensus. One approach to such a negotiation strategy is called Rogerian Argument. Rogerian Argument is based on Carl Rogers’ work in psychology and is particularly useful for emotionally charged, highly divisive issues. Rogers felt that many disagreements were steeped in deep emotions that caused conflict and consequently made it extremely unlikely, if not impossible, for a solution to be found. Instead of promoting adversarial relationships that traditional or classical arguments set up between writer and audience, Rogerian Argument begins by assuming that willing writers can find middle or common ground with their readers. Rogerian Argument assumes that if reader and writer can find common ground about a problem or issue, they are more likely to find a solution to that problem. Rogerian Argument develops along quite different lines than a traditional argument often does.
In the introduction of a Rogerian Argument, the writer presents the problem, typically pointing out how both sides are impacted by the issue. Rather than presenting the issue in a way that divides the opposition from the writer, the Rogerian Argument does not begin with the writer’s position at all.
Next, the writer describes the opposition’s point of view on the problem. This section of the argument is crucial to the writer’s credibility since it shows that the writer has a genuine understanding of the opposition’s view. It is also the part of the argument where the writer acknowledges the circumstances and contexts in which the opposition’s position or perspective could be valid. This part of Rogerian Argument is critical since it begins to move both parties toward compromise.
In the next part of Rogerian Argument, the writer presents fairly and accurately his or her own point of view on the issue. This segment depends, again, on neutral but clear language so that the reader perceives the fair-mindedness of the writer’s description. Keep it in mind that this segment is a major factor in whether or not the writer is ultimately convincing, so evidence and supporting detail can help develop this section of the argument. Like the description of the opposition’s perspective, this part of the argument also includes a description of the contexts or circumstances in which the writer’s position is valid.
Finally, the Rogerian Argument closes not by asking the opposition to give up its own position on the problem but by showing how readers would benefit from moving toward the writer’s position. In other words, the final section of the Rogerian Argument lays out possible ways to compromise or alternative solutions to the problem that would benefit writers and their opposition. One reason Rogerian Argument can be so successful is because it presents both sides of an issue clearly, accurately, and fairly. Rogerian Argument also uses ethos, pathos, and logos in a different way than most classical or traditional argument models.