Ethos Pathos Logos

Aristotle coined these terms to explain how rhetoric works:

"Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker's personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible."

Ethos — appeal to ethics

Convincing an audience via the authority or credibility of the persuader, be it a notable or experienced figure in the field or even a popular celebrity. Examples:

  • "As a doctor, I am qualified to tell you that this course of treatment will likely generate the best results."

  • "My three decades of experience in public service, my tireless commitment to the people of this community, and my willingness to reach across the aisle and cooperate with the opposition, make me the ideal candidate for your mayor."

  • "If my years as a Marine taught me anything, it's that caution is the best policy in this sort of situation."

Pathos — appeal to emotion

Creating an emotional response to an impassioned plea or a convincing story. Examples:

  • "If we don't move soon, we're all going to die! Can't you see how dangerous it would be to stay?"

  • "I'm not just invested in this community - I love every building, every business, every hard-working member of this town."

  • "There's no price that can be placed on peace of mind. Our advanced security systems will protect the well-being of your family so that you can sleep soundly at night."

Logos — appeal to logic

Persuading an audience with reason, using facts and figures.

  • "The data is perfectly clear: this investment has consistently turned a profit year-over-year, even in spite of market declines in other areas."

  • "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: we have not only the fingerprints, the lack of an alibi, a clear motive, and an expressed desire to commit the robbery… We also have video of the suspect breaking in. The case could not be more open and shut."

  • "It's a matter of common sense that people deserve to be treated equally. The Constitution calls it 'self-evident.' Why, then, should I have been denied a seat because of my disability?"

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