There is no question that Aristotle is the all-time master of argument and rhetoric. The mere fact that we are still using his rhetorical appeals, canons, and logic over two-thousand years later should be evidence enough of that. However, while Aristotle’s method of arguing might win you some debates, it probably won’t win you any friends.

In the 1950s, a psychologist named Carl Rogers developed a technique for arguing that focused more on building consensus than on simply “winning.” The Rogerian argument (as it is known) is really more of an addition to Aristotle than a divergence from it. The biggest additions being a validation of the opposing argument (as part of the counterargument) and an explanation of how opponents will benefit from coming around to your way of thinking.

The basic structure of a Rogerian argument is:

  1. Introduction
  2. Validation of opposing argument(s)
  3. Argument (evidence, logic, rhetorical appeals)
  4. Conclusion with an explanation of how your opponent would benefit by agreeing with you.