English 1213: English Composition 2 C. Verschage Professor of English
Essay #4: Rogerian Argument
“Compromise, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.” -- Ambrose Bierce. “A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybosy can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense” -- Barack Obama. “A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece” – Ludwig Erhard.
Welcome to your last essay assignment!
Often arguments which center on refuting an opponent’s perspective are often antagonistic and can cause people to lose their morale and identity, their desire to work together, and drive to succeed. Consequently, the best approach when dealing with an audience whose position is in direct opposition with your own is a Rogerian argument.
What is a “Rogerian Argument”?
A Rogerian Argument (also known as a “Common Ground Argument”) is built upon the work of psychologist Carl R. Rogers, who advocated a type of communication called “empathetic listening,” and to come to conclusions or decisions that benefit both parties (or what is known as a “win-win”). He felt that a person should listen to the point of view of his or her adversary and to come to a conclusion that takes into account this other perspective. A Rogerian argument takes this idea and applies it to the essay format. A Rogerian structure acknowledges that a subject can be looked at from different standpoints. Also, this approach can strengthen any argument since it demonstrates that one has considered other possibilities before arriving at a belief. In closing you will summarize what you have learned through careful analysis and compromise. For example, if you took the topic Carpe Diem (“Seize the Day”), you might find a middle ground between living and loving for the moment and denying sensual gratification for pragmatic and moral reasons. The end result of a Rogerian argument is a solution that is more likely to satisfy all parties.
“When Should I Used a Rogerian Argument?”
A Rogerian argument works best when the essay subject is one where people have strong, opposing positions, or one where the opposing positions are “strongly emotionally charged.” Because Rogerian arguments are based on listening to the opposition and giving consideration to those concerns, this structure works to calm an audience who may be opposed to your position.
For your last essay assignment, choose an issue discussed and/or illustrated in one of the following readings, and write a 4 – 6 page (or 1,000 – 1,500 word) Rogerian argument in which you will try to bring all parties involved to a “middle-ground” (or “win-win”) position. Purpose: To persuade your audience to compromise and/or change their opinions and agree (at least in part) with yours. You will engage your audience in a fair and convincing analysis of an issue’s multiple perspectives and persuade those readers of the validity of the position you support. Audience: Imagine you are writing to an audience of educated people who have a stake in opposing your view.
Suggested Readings. 01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08. 09. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. Randall Kenan’s “The Foundations of the Earth” (149 – 161) Ernesto Quinonez’s “from Bodega Dreams” (167 – 172) Judy Grahn’s “Ella, in a square apron, along Highway 80” (182) Etheridge Knight’s “Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane” (183) Gary Soto’s “Mexicans Begin Jogging” (193) Alma Luz Villanueva’s “Crazy Courage” (195-196) Luis Valdez’s “Los Vendidos” (198 – 206) Sherman Alexie’s “Superman and Me” (208 – 210) John Hope Franklin’s “The Train...
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