Thursday, March 08, 2007

You're Not People Anymore, You're Lawyers

Tonight I am reading and correcting one of my student's papers. This particular one happens to be a Rogerian argument, and I never had to write one of those myself. Follow me on my crotchety and en-grouched journey.

I pry myself from my twenty-one-year-old recliner and grumble out to the car trunk with my germs to unearth the pertinent text book. Checking the index...Rogerian argument...okay, I've got it.

"Writing Rogerian Argument

To write Rogerian argument, according to Young, Becker, and Pike, the writer proceeds in phases rather than following set organizational patterns or argumentation strategies. These phases are as follows.... [steps 1 and 3 omitted.]

2. The writer shows in which contexts and under what conditions the opponent's position may be valid. Note that the opponent is never made to feel completely wrong....

4. The writer states how the opponent's position would benefit if the opponent were to adopt elements of the writer's position. An attempt is finally made to show that the two positions complement each other and that each supplies what the other lacks."

The way you know that it's finally true that you're not a person anymore is when you read a statement like this, call this "Roger" fellow a puss under your breath, and hope that whoever came up with this argumentation method never had anything important on the line. What of "letting the incandescence of your belief shine through?" Where is the advocacy? And if your position is lacking and you depended on the opposition to support what was lacking, how much are you going to be liable for when "The Big M" rolls around?

Contrary to my consternation at Good Sir Roger, I do understand where this tack comes from in terms of credibility and academic "arguments," but what kind of arguer are you really if you don't try to sink, no, obliterate all the other guy's battleships?

My fun has been dying for too long.


RG said...

I used that book for Oral Communications my freshman year of undergrad. Man, that was a long time ago.

LeiselB said...

Seriously! I go for obliterating all the time....but maybe this is a more tacit way of obliterating...hmmm.....