While classical argument structures try to disprove the views of the opposition, the Rogerian argument form works to build understanding between opposing viewpoints. Creating a Rogerian essay is a matter of understanding this type of argument and following its specific format.
Definition of a Rogerian Argument
To understand the Rogerian argument essay structure, you need to understand what defines this type of argument. The psychologist Carl R. Rogers advocated communication based on compromise. He felt a person should listen to the point of view of his or her adversary and 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 essay structure acknowledges that a subject can be looked at from different standpoints.
When to Use This Type of Argument
A Rogerian argument works best when the essay subject is one where people have strong, opposing positions. Examples would include divisive subjects such as gun control or abortion. 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 opinion.
From the beginning of your essay, acknowledge that there is another side to the argument, and it is dissimilar from your own. Give a fair assessment of the opposition in your introduction.
Acknowledgment of the Opposition
This part of your essay builds trust because it shows that not only do you acknowledge the other side of the argument, but that you also find some value in it. State the parts of the opposition in which you find some merit.
State Your Thesis
Once you have shown that you are taking your opposition into consideration, you should state your own perspective. Your thesis is the position you are taking regarding the essay’s subject.
Support Your Thesis
Explain why your thesis is valid. The research you have done in support of your position should appear here. While stating your thesis can be done in one paragraph, supporting the thesis will probably need several paragraphs. This section builds support for your point of view and illustrates that you have delved deeply into your subject and found material to endorse the position you have chosen.
Concluding Your Rogerian Essay
The conclusion in a Rogerian argument essay structure should illustrate why your position in this argument would be beneficial and would resolve the problem. In other words, even though you have admitted that the other side of the argument has merit, you want to conclude by showing why your thesis is the better option. If your position cannot completely solve the problem, as is often the case when writing about a controversial issue, admit that. State that while your ideas will help, more work needs to be done.
Glenn, Cheryl, et al. The Writer's Harbrace Handbook. 2nd ed. Boston: Heinle, 2004.