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Rogerian Argument Model

Rogerian Argument Model

Author: Gavin McCall

This lesson teaches the basics of argumentation using the Rogerian model.

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Welcome to English composition. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me.

What are we going to learn today? We'll be looking at one of the many argumentation models, Rogerian Argumentation. We'll look at what this model entails, and how it can be useful. And then we'll check out an example. Composition is to recognized several different models, or methods, for constructing arguments. Today, we'll be focusing on the Rogerian model. But before we begin, I should say there's no such thing as the right or best model of argumentation. There are just models that seem to work better in certain situations than others, and models that some writers prefer over others, for more personal reasons. Writers new to this, or any other model of argumentation, should consider its qualities and priorities, but always within the context of their own writing needs.

The point of learning these models is to give beginning writers options that they can consider during many stages of the writing process, including brainstorming, pre-writing, and during the drafting, or revision processes. And writers who are familiar with multiple argumentation models will be able to pick and choose from them, in order to build the best argument for their subject and purpose.

The form of argument construction that we'll be looking at today, called Rogerian Argumentation, is a methodology for structuring written arguments. It's based on the work of psychologist, Carl Rogers, though he didn't develop it directly. It's designed to build compromise between strongly different parties are perspectives, striving to find and establish common ground between them, rather than simply staking out a position and sticking to it.

The Rogerian model demonstrates how making an argument, especially in the academic context, doesn't have to be an aggressive or combative act. There are five key components to the Rogerian model-- an introduction, presented in a neutral tone, that discusses the stakes of the debate and provides any important background or context the intended audience might need. Next comes a fair, equitable, and nonjudgmental description of the opposing viewpoint, which demonstrates the writers understanding of the issue, and respect for those who occupy the other position. Then comes an explanation of the writer's own position regarding the issue, and reasons for why he or she sees it as valid and true.

Then, there's a discussion of what the two positions have in common in the context of the debate, including shared values and goals. And finally, the essay ends by proposing a resolution, or possible solution that may require compromises from both parties, but ideally, only things they could both agree on.

There are a few reasons writers might want to choose the Rogerian model for an essay that they're planning or working on. The first is that this model allows for discussion of the commonalities between different positions, which is often beneficial for those entering the conversation around a fiercely debated topic. And when writers expect some of the audience to be hostile towards or in strong disagreement with their position, this model is often a good choice.

It's effective for arguments with the primary goal of forming a consensus, or instigating a united action. That being said, there are occasions for writing in which Rogerian argumentation is poorly suited. Any time a writer really wants to take a strong, oppositional stance to counter arguments, and does not want to offer compromises or consolations, a different model would probably be the better choice.

Now we're going to look at the outline of an essay that could be built, based on the Rogerian model. The topic in mind is abortion, and the working thesis of the writers is that we can prevent abortions by investing in free access to birth control. The essay would begin with an introduction stating, in a neutral tone, that abortion is a complicated issue that's been debated in the United States for decades.

Both sides feel that they have the high moral ground, and that they're taking the only humane and defensible position. Then, according to model, the opposing viewpoint would be made clear, stating that abortion is murder, and even worse, it's murder of innocent children. It's very clear cut, and with this belief in mind, it's easy to understand why people feel so passionately about the topic.

The essay would continue by discussing the writer's viewpoint, stating that abortion is a private decision, that is not made lightly, the rights of the living should not be subjected to the rights of the unborn, arguing that it's likewise cruel to force women and men to become parents when they know they don't have the financial, emotional, or communal capacity to do so well, and that to force children into being raised in problematic situations isn't ideal, either.

Then the essay would state the common ground between the two positions, saying that ultimately, nobody on either side wants abortions, that we share a desire that there be less of them. And so, the proposed solution. Let's provide free and easy access to birth control, including condoms, or other forms for men to use. The essay would acknowledge that while birth control doesn't sit comfortably with some of those opposed to it on moral or religious grounds, it's certainly preferable to abortions.

And so as you can see, given the passions invoked by this topic, almost no one is likely to be persuaded, or have his or her mind changed. So this is a good topic for the Rogerian model. And while it's unlikely to convince any Pro-choice or Pro-life people to give up their positions, this essay would propose an overall reduction abortions and in unplanned pregnancies, which both sides should agree is a good thing.

What did we learn today? We learned about one of the many models of argumentation, the Rogerian model. We looked at what this model entails, and what kinds of situations it's best suited for. And then we saw an example. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me.

Terms to Know
Rogerian Model of Argumentation

A methodology for structuring arguments, based on the work of Carl Rogers, designed to build compromise between strongly differing parties or perspectives.