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The Rogerian Model of Argument

Course material for ENGL17889GD Composition and Rhetoric
by

Peter Grevstad

on 13 January 2014

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Transcript of The Rogerian Model of Argument

The Rogerian Model of Argument
"The relationship which I have found helpful is characterised by ... an acceptance of [the] other person as a separate person with a value in his own right, and by a deep empathetic understanding which enables me to see his private world through his eyes." - Carl Rogers
Consider the opening example, that of
Lady Gaga's "Born This Way". Is it confrontational?
Does it take a clear position? Is there tolerance for an
opposing view, regardless of gender, sexual preference,
or economic status? Does it find common ground with those whose views might be different?
Rogerian argument is sometimes visual.
It is used in marketing and communication.
For this model, "the traditional paradigm of argument,
with an outcome resulting in a winner and a loser,
is abandoned for a more Humanist paradigm of striving
for cooperative interaction."
Classical argument continues to be a functional
model for presenting and defending a point of view;
the Toulmin model meets the complexities of
the contemporary world, using ethical emphasis (warrants and backing), as we embrace the complexities of a claim. Toulmin argument is in many ways a precursor to the Rogerian model we'll invesitgate today.
From Rogers' viewpoint, the Classical and the
Toulmin models divide people into two groups: proponents and opponents, or simply winners and losers. This is a combative approach which does more harm than good; it may even generate ill will and antagonism, rather than cooperation.
Finding Common Ground
Rogers urges arguers to find common ground
BEFORE commencing an argument. The emphasis is
on the audience for the argument. An argument or a paper in this mode assumes that there are differing views; yet, no matter how debatable or controversial a view is, one can locate views on which nearly everyone can agree. See the example about capital punishment on p. 52.
Finding common ground is optimum, as it isolates and
resolves points of opposition more effectively than the two other models, and it thus reduces hostility in the audience by demonstrating an understanding of the audience's perspective.
On p. 153 the authors introduce the model to students. It consists of an introduction, where a shared problem is introduced, and both sides are invited to attempt to solve it. Next, the writer establishes 'what we agree on'. Then, the writer points out where the parties differ (misunderstandings, drawbacks, limitations). After this, the writer identifies possible drawbacks or limitations of their OWN argument/solutions to the problem, followed by an emphasis of the greater benefits of the writer's position or solution to a common problem. Finally, the argument concludes with a suggestion of how to resolve differences, or a call to action to resolve differences.
Developing Multiple Perspectives
This form of argument requires that you as
writers develop multiple perspectives toward issues.
It requires that we be tolerant and respectful of differing
points of view, or perspectives, taking time to fathom the value systems that inform another's perspective. The first step? "Listen with understanding".
Listening with understanding and empathy is a skill
that takes time to develop. We don't just listen, but we
pay close attention to the other's perspective. Listening with understanding can be accomplished in a few ways: be as attentive as possible; suspend judgement while listening; ask questions for clarification (after the speaker finishes); trying to see the other's claims in terms of his or her warrants (values or ideology on which to base a perspective - remember Toulmin?); resolving contradictions, or finding ways in which differing points of view can somehow work together.
When writing, you must consider the
audience, and anticipate their questions and
their counter-arguments or challenges to your
argument (i.e. your audience's needs). Understanding
the audience and anticipating its needs, you will take a
more cooperative, rather than combative, stance. One
must also indicate where the differing views are logically
sound (valid). This will help the audience prepare to listen
with as much understanding as possible, and perhaps to be sympathetic. You also demonstrate an awareness ofthe limitations to your proposal - nobody's perfect! This give-and-take model will still help you to convince others that despite the limitations of your position, that your position would work best for all concerned.
Common questions as you write
Questions to ask yourself are as follows: What issue will I investigate? What is my thesis? What common ground exists between my views and those whose views differ from mine? What are the challenging views on the matter that require discussion? How can I highlight the limitations of the challenging views, and suggest a mutually agreeable way of overcoming the limitations? Based on shared views about the thesis, what can I add in terms of evidence that is compatible with challenging views? What are my concluding reflections? And finally, how can I get my reader's attention from the start?
In a small group...
See the outline for a Rogerian argument on page 156 of the chapter. Use this method of organization to develop an outline of a Rogerian argument for the following assertion: "Books, especially textbooks, should be published online, and be accessible for free".
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