When most of us think of argument, we think about winners of arguments and losers of arguments. Arguments, even sometimes academic arguments, can be strong and forceful. An Aristotelian or classical argument is a strong, “this is my assertion and here’s why I am right” kind of argument. But that kind of argument isn’t going to work in all situations. When your audience is a really difficult one in the sense that you know your audience isn’t going to completely agree with your side of the issue, it can be a good idea to try to find a middle ground. The Rogerian argument finds that middle ground.
Based on the work of psychologist Carl Rogers(pictured on the right), a Rogerian argument focuses on finding a middle ground between the author and the audience. This type of argument can be extremely persuasive and can help you, as a writer, understand your own biases and how you might work to find common ground with others.
Here is a summary of the basic strategy for a Rogerian argument, and the infographic on the following page should be helpful as well.
- In your essay, first, introduce the problem.
- Acknowledge the other side before you present your side of the issue. This may take several paragraphs.
- Next, you should carefully present your side of the issue in a way that does not dismiss the other side. This may also take several paragraphs.
- You should then work to bring the two sides together. Help your audience see the benefits of the middle ground. Make your proposal for the middle ground here, and be sure to use an even, respectful tone. This should be a key focus of your essay and may take several paragraphs.
- Finally, in your conclusion, remind your audience of the balanced perspective you have presented and make it clear how both sides benefit when they meet in the middle.
For a visual representation of this type of argument, check out the Rogerian infographic on the next page.
Early on in the film, audiences are encouraged to consider the middle ground proposed by Nakia, one where Wakanda helps to make the world a better place without razing it to the ground.
—rahawa haile, Longreads, "How Black Panther Asks Us to Examine Who We Are To One Another,"23 Feb. 2018
Instead, riding around the middle ground, the gray area, taking a break to explore all the conflicting and joyful confusion, the ebb and flow of human nature, can be a blessing.
—alim kheraj, GQ, "No, You’re Not in Love with Him, You Just Want to Be Him,"1 Feb. 2018
Armstrong and Bleier talk frequently to find a middle ground in regard to both the Lake Conroe and Lake Houston communities.
—jennifer summer, Houston Chronicle, "Campaign launched to protect Lake Conroe water levels as downstream communities fight to lower it,"31 Jan. 2018
So, that middle ground is a mixture between both genres of fashion.
—teryn payne, Teen Vogue, "Virgil Abloh Talks His Fashion Journey, Off-White Conception, and Career Advice,"31 Jan. 2018
Doctoring up the stuff in the jar is a good middle ground.
—melissa clark, New York Times, "The Secret to Better Thai Dishes May Already Be in Your Fridge,"12 Jan. 2018
Baltimore needs to bail from that middle ground, just as the Phillies, White Sox and Tigers belatedly have done in the past few years.
—tom verducci, SI.com, "The Orioles Should Trade Manny Machado Now,"14 Dec. 2017
Sources involved say expect some kind of middle ground here -- say, $750,000.
—phil mattingly, CNN, "GOP tax negotiators -- slowly but surely -- hammering out final bill details,"11 Dec. 2017
The start planner is the perfect middle ground between a super barebones planner and one that's super laid out for you.
—noelle devoe, Seventeen, "The 7 Best Planners to Organize Your Year,"22 Dec. 2017