Logos, Pathos, Ethos

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Rhetorical Appeals – Ethos, Logos, Pathos • ‘The art of speaking not merely with propriety but with art and elegance.’ Dr Samuel Johnson • Rhetoric is defined as: “The art of using language so as to persuade or influence others; the body of rules to be observed by a speaker or writer in order to achieve effective of eloquent expression.” (New Shorter Oxford Dictionary) Ethos: The Writer’s Character or Credibility Ethos (Greek for ‘character’) refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the writer or speaker. The Greek word ethos is related to our word ethics or ethical, but a more accurate modern translation might be “image” or “character” or credibility. Aristotle uses ethos to refer to the speaker’s character as it appears to the audience. Aristotle says that if we believe that a speaker has “good sense, good moral character, and goodwill,” we are inclined to believe what that speaker says to us. Today we might add that a speaker should also appear to have the appropriate expertise or authority to speak knowledgeably about the subject matter. A writer’s ethos is created largely by word choice and style. Student writers often have a problem with ethos because they are asked to write research papers, reports, and other types of texts as if they have authority to speak persuasively, when in fact they are newcomers to the subject matter and the discourse community. Ethos is often conveyed through tone and style of the message and through the way the writer or speaker refers to differing views. It can also be affected by the writer’s reputation as it exists independently from the message–his or her expertise in the field, his or her previous record or integrity, and so forth. The impact of ethos is often called the argument’s ‘ethical appeal’ or the ‘appeal from credibility.’ Logos: Logical Arguments Logos (Greek for ‘word’) refers to the

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