Rogerian argument

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Rogerian argument (or Rogerian rhetoric) is a conflict-solving technique based on seeking common ground instead of polarizing debate.[1][2][3] According to English professor James Baumlin,

The Rogerian strategy, in which participants in a discussion collaborate to find areas of shared experience, thus allows speaker and audience to open up their worlds to each other, and in this attempt at mutual understanding, there is the possibility, at least, of persuasion. For in this state of sympathetic understanding, we recognize both the multiplicity of world-views and our freedom to choose among them—either to retain our old or take a new.[4]


The writings of American psychotherapist Carl R. Rogers inspired rhetoricians to formulate principles of communication based on empathizing with the views of others and seeking common ground.[5][6] The rhetoricians proposed trying to understand the adversary's beliefs and emotions, by listening to them, instead of adopting a point of view without considering those factors.[2][3][6]

Some rhetoricians have portrayed this form of argumentation as the opposite of Aristotelian argumentation, which they portrayed as an adversarial form of debate, because Rogerian argument attempts to find mutual understanding and compromise between two sides.[2][6][7]

In practice[edit]

Rogerian argument can be useful in emotionally charged topics since it defuses emotional reasoning and highlights rational arguments.[3]

Young, Becker and Pike identified four stages:[5][6]

  1. An introduction to the problem and a demonstration that the opponent's position is understood.
  2. A statement of the contexts in which the opponent's position may be valid.
  3. A statement of the writer's position, including the contexts in which it is valid.
  4. A statement of how the opponent's position would benefit if they were to adopt elements of the writer's position. If the writer can show that the positions complement each other, that each supplies what the other lacks, so much the better.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kroll, Barry M. (Autumn 1997). "Arguing about public issues: what can we learn from practical ethics?". Rhetoric Review. 16 (1): 105–119. doi:10.1080/07350199709389083. JSTOR 465966. For nearly three decades, Rogerian rhetoric has offered an important alternative to adversarial argument. More recently, certain strands of feminist rhetoric have created new interest in cooperative approaches. In "Beyond Argument in Feminist Composition," for example, Catherine Lamb draws attention to negotiation theory as an important source of alternatives to competitive and confrontational rhetoric. As Lamb explains: "in both negotiation and mediation... the goal has changed: it is no longer to win but to arrive at a solution in a just way that is acceptable to both sides" (18). And Michael Gilbert has developed a related approach that he calls "coalescent argumentation," an approach that involves a "joining together" of divergent claims through "recognition and exploration of opposing positions.... forming the basis for a mutual investigation of non-conflictual options" (837). [...] This view is similar to the key idea in negotiation theory (especially the version presented in Roger Fisher and William Ury's Getting to Yes) that lying beneath people's "positions" on issues are concerns and interests that represent what they care about most deeply. Positions are often intractable. But by shifting the conversation to underlying interests, it's often possible to find common concerns and shared values, on the basis of which there may be grounds for discussion and, ultimately, agreement.
  2. ^ a b c Dziamka, Kaz (16 May 2007). "Just shut up and listen to your enemy: whatever happened to Rogerian argument?". CounterPunch. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  3. ^ a b c Kiefer, Kate (2005). "What is Rogerian argument?". Colorado State University. Archived from the original on 2016-12-02. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  4. ^ Baumlin, James S. (Winter 1987). "Persuasion, Rogerian rhetoric, and imaginative play". Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 17 (1): 33–43. doi:10.1080/02773948709390765. JSTOR 3885207.
  5. ^ a b The locus classicus of Rogerian rhetoric is: Young, Richard Emerson; Becker, Alton L.; Pike, Kenneth L. (1970). Rhetoric: discovery and change. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. ISBN 978-0155768956. OCLC 76890.
  6. ^ a b c d Brent, Douglas (1996). "Rogerian rhetoric: an alternative to traditional rhetoric". In Emmel, Barbara; Resch, Paula; Tenney, Deborah (eds.). Argument revisited, argument redefined: negotiating meaning in the composition classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. pp. 73–96. ISBN 978-0761901846. OCLC 34114559. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  7. ^ Bator, Paul (December 1980). "Aristotelian and Rogerian rhetoric". College Composition and Communication. 31 (4): 427–432. doi:10.2307/356593. JSTOR 356593.

Further reading[edit]