Rogerian Argument Essay Ideas

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A List of Fresh Ideas for Rogerian Argument Essay Topics

It isn’t always about winning. Rogerian arguments are renowned for and distinguishable from so-called “traditional” arguments due to an emphasis towards discussion and acknowledgement of the points made by the other side.  During the times when Greeks roamed more of the earth, this approach was used in public settings in an attempt to endear themselves to voters on either side of an issue. Smart? Not really. Nobody in his/her right mind falls for it anymore. In fact, nobody in his/her right mind believes anything a politician says these days.

Objectivity is another key component to Rogerian argument, encouraging both sides to embrace the differences that have prevented a resolution. The goal here is for both sides to see the argument under a different light; a different angle, so people are able to see things again for the first time. It is almost reminiscent of coercion, but without the potential of force by threat. A more accurate term for this type of persuasion would be “intentional distraction”.

The Rogerian approach to arguing helped spawn the hackneyed and altogether useless term “agree to disagree”, framed in real life by people rolling their eyes and using less than five words to show how many parts stupid and stubborn they consist of. How is it designed to work?

In a perfect world

  • Participants would make their points understood
  • Describe the validity of the opposition’s argument
  • Offer a compromise; a shared space for common ground

Unfortunately, it doesn’t typically work as designed and is about as useful as the United Nations. So, what is the best way to celebrate the impact, or lack thereof, of the Rogerian approach to arguing? Fresh ways to show how ineffective it is, of course. In the spirit of finding more questions than answers, here are a few ideas to further question the validity of Rogerian arguments.

Think for yourself

  • Should marriage encompass traditional as well as same sex couples?
  • Are restrictions on internet freedoms a viable option?
  • Is the death penalty still relevant in the United States?
  • How important is gun control?
  • Is the judicial system due for an overhaul?
  • Has the influx of illegal aliens helped America’s bottom line?
  • Is the United States stretching its resources too thin?
  • Has the international influence of the United States been detrimental to the safety of Americans at home and abroad

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Of all the resources we publish on The Learning Network, perhaps it’s our vast collection of writing prompts that is our most widely used resource for teaching and learning with The Times.

This list of 401 prompts (available here in PDF) is now our third iteration of what originally started as 200 prompts for argumentative writing, and it’s intended as a companion resource to help teachers and students participate in our annual Student Editorial Contest. (In 2017, the dates for entering are March 2 to April 4.)

So scroll through the hundreds of prompts below that touch on every aspect of contemporary life — from social media to sports, politics, gender issues and school — and see which ones most inspire you to take a stand. Each question comes from our daily Student Opinion feature, and each provides links to free Times resources for finding more information. And for even more in-depth student discussions on pressing issues like immigration, guns, climate change and race, please visit our fall 2016 Civil Conversation Challenge.

What’s your favorite question on this list? What questions should we ask, but haven’t yet? Tell us in the comments.

And visit our related list as well: 650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.


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