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Aristotle’s Three Ways to
Who is Aristotle?
Aristotle (384-322 BCE) is
the most notable product of
the educational program
devised by Plato. Aristotle
wrote on an amazing range
of subjects, from logic,
philosophy, and ethics to
physics, biology,
psychology, politics, and
What is rhetoric?
Rhetoric is the art of
The goal of
persuasion is to
change others’ point
of view or to move
others to take
Aristotle thought there were basically
three ways into good rhetoric:
Logos, Ethos, Pathos
Using logos, ethos, and pathos will help you to
master the art of persuasion.
• Through language, you will be able to change the
point of view of others!
• Through language, you will be able to motivate
others to take action!
Appeals from character
Basically establishes why you’re an
authority worth listening to from the start
Ethos works best by establishing trust
“My interests are your interests”
For logos and pathos to work ethos
must be firmly in place
Let’s take a look at how Troy McClure
attempts to establish ethos
Would you be likely to take Mr. McClure
seriously after these attempts? Why or
why not?
Logos = Logic? Well…Not exactly
Pure logic is more the territory of
philosophy whereas rhetoric deals in
what we might call “fuzzy logic”
Consider this example: “High taxes hurt
jobs.” What do you think about the
“logic of this statement?
Syllogism : Philosophy :: Enthymeme :
Socrates is a man.
All men are mortal.
Socrates is mortal.
You don’t get logic much more solid
than that!
Enthymeme examples:
“With a name like Smuckers, it has to
be good”
“Does this place look like I’m married?
The toilet seat’s up man!” from The Big
“Mark’d ye his words? He did not take
the crown. Therefore ‘tis certain he was
not ambitious” from Julius Caesar
If logos in terms of rhetoric isn’t pure
logic, we might say instead that logos is
SOUNDING reasonable
Analogy is one popular tool that’s used
in logos: “Leaving Hussein in power
would be like ignoring Hitler.”
While this isn’t necessarily the soundest
logic, it sure SOUNDS convincing
doesn’t it
In the American court system certainty
is not required, but instead “proof
beyond a reasonable doubt”
That makes it a perfect home for
rhetoric and enthymemes
A man is on trial for murdering his wife and
the evidence is STACKED against him
His lawyer acknowledges this, but says that
the man is no murderer; in fact his wife will
walk through the courtroom door at noon.
Everyone waits patiently and at noon all eyes
are on the door
His wife never shows up
The lawyer argues that the fact that the jury
was watching the door shows that they
believe the possibility of the wife being alive
and therefore cannot convict the defendant
The judge however notices that the only
person NOT looking at the door and
therefore he must be guilty
Two arguments based on enthymemes, but
neither constitute definite philosophical
Aristotle argues that logos should be
based off of culturally accepted
A commonplace is basically common
sense or what a culture considers
virtuous, but these can vary from culture
to culture and era to era
At one time a flat earth was a
A few typical western commonplaces
-Prevention is better than the cure
-Hard work deserves reward
-No means no
-You are innocent until proven guilty
-All men are created equal
However, in some cultures it’s a
commonplace to say that the opinions
of women or minorities are irrelevant
An appeal to emotion
Often associated with sadness or pity (think
of those adopt a pet or save a child
But Pathos can refer to any emotion:
happiness, anger, fear, etc.
It’s easy to think of Pathos as “cheating”
because it caters to the heart rather than the
But…is love any less valid than knowledge?
Emotions are at least as important to us as
knowledge is
“By the time you throw this flyer in the
recycling bin 30 children will have died”
“This is Sarah. She may not live to be two.”
Military ads that focus on triumph
Prescription drug ads that show happy
people cavorting through fields of daisies
Ethos: “Buy my car because I’m Tom
Logos: “Buy my old car because yours is
broken and mine is the only one for sale.”
Pathos: “Buy my old car or this cute little
kitten, afflicted with a rare degenerative
disease, will expire in agony, for my car is
the last asset I have in the world, and I am
selling it to pay for kitty’s medical treatment.”
Logos Example
In the following example, note how Ian Ayres
uses evidence from experience (her work
environment, Delta Airlines, the University
of Chicago). This evidence establishes the
precedent that Ayres uses to compare to
the current situation that she argues should
be changed.
Logos Example
We don’t have single-sex toilets at home, and we
don’t need them at the office. Then there’s also
the small question of efficiency. I see my male
colleagues waiting in line to use the men’s room,
when the women’s toilet is unoccupied. Which is
precisely why Delta Airlines doesn’t label those
two bathrooms at the back of the plane as being
solely for men and women. It just wouldn’t fly.
Logos Example
The University of Chicago just got the 10 single-use
restrooms on campus designated gender neutral.
It’s time Yale followed suit. And this is not just an
academic problem. There are tens of thousands
of single-use toilets at workplaces and public
spaces throughout the nation that are wrongheadedly designated for a single-sex. All these
single-use toilets should stop discriminating. They
should be open to all on a first-come, first-lock
—Ian Ayres, “Looking Out for No. 2”
Ethos Example
In the following example, note how Nancy
Mairs establishes her credibility and
trustworthiness and authority to write
about this subject by being honest. Mairs
admits she is uncertain about her own
motives and shows she understands the
discomfort others’ have with this subject.
Ethos Example
First, the matter of semantics. I am a cripple. I
choose this word to name me. I choose from
among several possibilities, the most common of
which are “handicapped” and “disabled.” I made
the choice a number of years ago, without
thinking, unaware of my motives for doing so.
Even now, I am not sure what those motives are,
but I recognize that they are complex and not
entirely flattering.
Ethos Examples
People—crippled or not—wince at the word
“cripple,” as they do not at “handicapped” or
“disabled.” Perhaps I want them to wince. I
want them to see me as a tough customer,
one to whom the fates/gods/viruses have not
been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of
her existence squarely. As a cripple, I
—Nancy Mairs, “On Being a Cripple”
Pathos Example
In the following example from a speech by
Winston Churchill, note the use of
anaphora (repetition of a word or group of
words at the beginning of items in a
This repetition emphasizes the point and
expresses passion and emotion.
Moreover, the repetition affects the
audience emotionally.
Pathos Example
We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the
end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the
seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing
confidence and growing strength in the air, we
shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the
landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in
the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall
never surrender.
—Winston Churchill, speech to the House of
Commons, June 4, 1940
Logos = logic
Logos is an argument
based on facts,
evidence and reason.
Using logos means
appealing to the readers’
sense of what is logical.
Ethos = Ethics / Image
Ethos is an argument based on
The writer or speaker presents
him or herself to the reader
as credible, trustworthy,
honest and ethical.
Pathos = argument
based on feelings
Using pathos means
appealing to
readers’ emotions
and feelings.
Pathos, Ethos, Logos