Rogerian Argument -Link
There are four parts to a Rogerian Argument:
- The introduction, during which the problem is stated without comment,
- The re-statement of the audience's current stance,
- The explanation of the speaker's stance,
- The conclusion, during which the speaker highlights the concessions made by the speaker and the benefits of changing viewpoints.
In other words, when constructing a Rogerian argument essay, in which you explore the common ground between two opposing points of view, you must remember that the goal is to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution through communication — not to overpower your opponent with wit, sarcasm, insults or threats.
Know your audience. The more you know about your audience, the more you can tailor your essay to draw in the participant. Having information about your audience will also provide you with a better understanding of the problem and how it is affecting their lives. Know your opposing argument as well as you know the argument you are asserting.
Avoid negative language. Focus on the positive aspects of your opponent’s stance. For example, if your opponent is against the teaching of evolution in schools, acknowledge and honor their commitment to the education.
Avoid controversial side topics. If you know that discussion of other related beliefs and practices would elicit a negative reaction from your audience, then do not address those topics. Steer away from additional controversial topics and focus on the matter at hand.
Maintain a neutral tone when stating your viewpoint. The final stage of the argument is for persuading. When stating your point, state it simply without misleading terms or flowery speech. For example, change I have an easy-to-use product that will revolutionize your household chores, saving you hours. Instead use, my product will simplify cleaning chores, such as vacuuming and dishes.
Writing a good Rogerian argument essentially depends on your ability to “locate and isolate” the beliefs you share with your audience. Resist introducing your position as this will disrupt your attempt to bridge the gap between you and your audience.
Determine the “common ground” between you and your audience. One way to do this is to outline your main points and compare it with the main points that you anticipate your audience/reader to have.
Once you know the proposition that you and your audience/reader share, use that shared belief to start your essay. That way, you will be able to intrigue your audience without having to argue while introducing the topic. The task is to come to terms with your audience first.
After establishing the “common ground” continue by slowly integrating your position. Simply make a brief introduction of your position in one or two short concise sentences.
This is where and when to integrate your supporting arguments and evidences for your main position. Be subtle in your supporting arguments rather than obvious in your assertions. Instead of stating, it is not true that poetry is not an art, be subtle and offer instead, poetry is like painting because the poet has to weave words together that are colorful.
Now you when to address the obvious conflicting arguments between you and your audience. After recognizing the conflict of arguments, persuade your audience that your assertions are sound and why the opposition’s are weak. Specifically point to the weak evidences of the opposition. At this point is the audience/reader will either accept or reject your position.
If your position is not accepted then reiterate the “common grounds” but this time merge it with the evidences you have and why your position outweighs the opposition.
Conclude your essay/argumentation with a brief reminder of those “common ground.”
One of the greatest challenges for a writer of arguments is to keep the audience from becoming so defensive and annoyed that it will not listen to anything the writer has to say. Sometimes audiences can feel threatened by viewpoints different from their own, and in such cases persuasion can rarely take place.
The psychologist Carl Rogers developed a negotiating strategy to help people avoid such situations; he called it "empathic listening". In an empathic position, the writer refrains from passing judgment on the audience’s ideas until he or she has listened attentively to the audience’s position, tried to follow the audience’s reasoning, and acknowledged the validity of the audience’s viewpoint (if only from a limited perspective).
By trying to understand where the audience is coming from and avoiding loaded or attacking language that might put the audience on the defensive, the writer shows empathy for the audience’s viewpoint and opens the door for mutual understanding and respect. This psychological approach encourages people to listen to each other rather than to try to shout each other down.
Rogerian argument focuses on building bridges between writer and audience, and places considerable weight on the values, beliefs, and opinions the two share, a Rogerian argument doesn’t emphasize an "I win–you lose" outcome as much as classical or Toulmin arguments do. Rather it emphasizes a "You win and I win too" solution, one where negotiation and mutual respect are valued. Thus, it is particularly useful in psychological and emotional arguments, where pathos and ethos rather than logos and strict logic predominate.
A Rogerian argument usually begins with the writer exploring the common ground with the audience. For instance, in an argument in favor of handgun registration, the writer might begin by stating his or her respect for individual rights, especially the right to self-defense and protection of one’s property. The writer might also show appreciation for sportsmen and collectors, who regard handguns as equipment for an activity or collectibles to be valued. In exploring this common ground, the writer tries to state the audience’s side of the issue fairly and objectively, so that the audience realizes the writer is treating it with respect.
In the body of a Rogerian argument, the writer gives an objective statement of her or his position, again trying to avoid loaded and attacking language and trying not to imply that this position is somehow morally superior to the audience’s position. The writer explains the contexts in which his or her position is valid and explores how they differ from the audience’s. For instance, the gun registration writer might note that gun collections are frequent targets for thieves, and point out that registration might help the owners retrieve such stolen property before it is used to commit a crime.
In the conclusion, the writer finally presents a thesis, usually phrased in such a way that shows the audience that the writer has made some concessions toward the audience’s positions. For instance, the gun registration writer might concede that this law should only apply to new sales of handguns, not to guns the audience already owns. By giving some ground, the writer invites the audience to concede as well, and hopefully to reach an agreement about the issue. If the conclusion can show the audience how it will benefit from adopting (at least to some degree) the writer’s position, an even better chance for persuasion takes place.