THE THREE ELEMENTS OF A PERSUASIVE ARGUMENT: ETHOS, LOGOS, AND PATHOS
Aristotle (384-322 b.c.e.) studied with the great philosopher Plato and tutored young Alexander the Great. He wrote more than 400 books, including the Rhetoric, which is used to this day as a foundational work in the study of argumentation. Aristotle said that rhetoric (argumentation) involves using all the available means of persuasion and he defined the means of persuasion as ethos (personal credibility), logos (logical organization and reasoning), and pathos (emotional appeal).
Ethos: Speaker Credibility
From his many observations of persuasive speeches given in the courts and in the marketplace, Aristotle concluded that ethos, the credibility, image, and reputation of a speaker, was one of the most important means of persuasion. Modern researchers have discovered that ethos involves three specific dimensions: expertise, trustworthiness, and dynamism.2 Much of your ethos, your credibility or reputation as a speaker, will come through the same methods that help you to overcome speech fear. When you are well prepared to speak and have conviction about your topic, your audience will give you respect and attention. Speaker credibility can be achieved through specific effort and planning. Speakers are seen as credible when:
1. They can be clearly heard by the audience.
2. They show that they have done their homework on a topic by using well cited research to support their key points.
2Charles U. Larson, Persuasion, 9th edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing), 2001, pp. 205-208.
3. They are easy to understand because they are well organized. 4. They are easy to understand because they have rehearsed the speech before giving it. 5. They show respect for the audience by using language and examples that can be understood (not too complex or too simplified) by the members of that particular audience. 6. They reduce nervous, distracting mannerisms to a minimum (this can be done with practice). 7. They dress appropriately for the speaking occasion.
When you enhance your credibility with these principles, believing audiences will be affirmed by your message, neutral audiences may be informed and even persuaded, and hostile audiences may be more open to your ideas.
Logos: Logical Organization and Credible Content
Logos, or logical appeals, are made through the use of good evidence of the kind we discussed in Chapters 4 and 5. Persuasive speakers cite statistics, relevant examples, analogies, controlled studies, and expert testimony to support their key ideas. They organize their points clearly, so that audiences can understand and follow their reasoning. Several different organizational formats for persuasive speaking are highlighted in this chapter. Regardless of the format you choose, there are some essential ingredients to every organizational pattern that apply whether you have two minutes or twenty minutes to speak. To be a clearly organized speaker, use these principles, illustrated by Figure 10-1:
8. Create an interesting introduction to capture the attention of the audience. Decide on your introduction after you structure the body of the speech, so that you know what it is you are introducing. 9. Make your thesis statement (this is your conclusion about the issue) clear early in the speech, immediately following the introduction. 10. Tell the audience how you plan to support your position; list the key reasons (points) immediately after you give your thesis statement. This technique is called the preview of your speech. 11. Explain each key point (reason). Figure 10-1 shows that each key point must be supported with evidence. The evidence must be cited (tell us where it comes from—the publication, author, and date). Use this structural outline to see which key points have enough...
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5A. H. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1968).
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