RHETORIC AND WRITING
RHETORIC AND WRITING RHE 306
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gtamp9gt 5 A Q 2 a KN m 3 amp mu Egg as x a ww 3 gt1 39 g e quotx xxx I39 3K9 sx av s V 9 wuvv 3 MW quot3mm w n iwww quot1wa xxx 22an Aw mImaOEn ma 0 gtgtszlt AW 0953 m 19 whw n m mw Copyright 2008 Composition Program Brigham Young University All rights reserved Permission in writing must be obtained from the publisher be fore any part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical including photocopying and recording or by an information storage or retrieval system Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN 9780 7380 2417 2 HaydenMcNeil Publishing 14903 Pilot Drive Plymouth Michigan 48170 wwwhmpublishingcom McInelly 2417 2 F07 WRITING amp RHETORIC V LE OF CONTENTS er 1 ng and Rhetoric Getting People on the Same Page 1 LS and Rhetorical Situation 37 ter 4 ower of the Word 85 ter 6 I g the Available Means Inventing an Argument 107 01 Delivery Letting the Light Shine Through 151 r Ea CHAPTERE NOTES R R 39 C AL Ethos Pathos and Logos Gary Layne Hatch lNTRODUCTION In his famous de nition of rhetoric included among those pre sented in Chapter 1 Aristotle 1991 de nes rhetoric as an ability in each particular case to see the available means of persuasion p 36 Let s take a closer look at this de nition The Greek word that Aristotle uses for ability is dynamis which means ability capacity or faculty This Greek word should be familiar as the root of such English words as dynamic dynamo or dynamite What do these words all suggest Something that is ac tive forceful and powerful So rhetoric is the power to be able to see for any particular rhetorical situation all of the possible ways of persuading someone Thus rhetoric can be seen as the art of discovering possibilities Which of these possibilities you choose depends on your particular rhetorical situation The Greek word that Aristotle uses to describe means of persua sion is pisteis a word often translated as proof but this word also means conviction belief trust evidence or assurance This Greek word is the word used in the New Testament for faith So the means of persuasion or pisteis are the ways in which you build your audience s trust or faith in your message What Aris totle describes are strategies that a speaker or writer could use w CHAPTER to instill belief in others This is particularly important in a situation where there isn t necessarily an absolute truth where there is uncertainty or controversy What strategies are likely to cause people to think more about a message to the point that they may actually change how they think about it Aristotle de scribes three proofs persuasion through a writer s credibility ethos persuasion through a reader s emotions pathos and persuasion through reasoning logos ETHOS ESTABLISHING CREDEBIHTY According to Aristotle we are more likely to believe someone who is good In fact Aristotle calls one s character the con trolling factor in persuasion 1991 p 38 He uses the Greek word ethos to describe a persuasive strategy built on trust This Greek word should be familiar as the root of the word ethics Think about people you trust Why do you trust them You might trust them because they have authority For example they may hold a certain position in the community Reli gious leaders teachers police of cers and other public of cials have authority because of the position they hold The uniform the badge the sign of of ce are all persuasive in some contexts Their authority can make them more cred ible For instance the President of the United States has cer tain authority because of his position he can put ideas into action and the of ce he holds conveys a certain degree of credibility on whomever holds the position In the movie The American President ctional president Andrew Shepherd de scribes the White House as the single greatest homecourt advantage in the modern world Others gain our trust not because of the position they hold but rather because of the qualities of character they demon strate Generally we trust people who are knowledgeable and experienced who are decent fair reliable and honorable and who demonstrate goodwill with others We tend to trust people who are more like us who identify with our values and beliefs You might also trust someone because of his or her knowledge of an issue Because we can t know everything about every issue we need to form an opinion on we often value the opinion of experts For instance most people want to nd a good doctor RHETORICAL PROOFS or dentist one who is not only knowledgeable and skilled but also honest and caring In a classic experiment conducted in 1951 social psychologists Carl Hovland and Walter Weiss did an experiment that showed the in uence of credibility on persuasiveness They gave two different groups of people the exact same written message ar guing for the feasibility of building nuclearpowered subma rines One group was told that the argument was written by J Robert Oppenheimer a famous atomic physicist who had worked on the Manhattan Project the project that developed the rst atomic bomb The second group was told that the argument was translated from Pravda the of cial newspaper of the Soviet Communist party widely regarded as a propaganda outlet for the Soviet Union A large number of those who be lieved that the argument came from Oppenheimer changed their opinion but very few did who believed that the argument came from Pravda Aronson 1999 p 75 Similar experiments have shown what most of us would take to be obvious that a judge of a juvenile court is better than most people at swaying opinion about juvenile delinquency that a famous poet and critic can sway opinion about the merits of a poem and that a medical journal can sway opinion about whether or not anti histamines should be dispensed without a prescription Aron son 1999 p 75 What makes the difference here Someone who is credible is seen as good knowledgeable and reliable Within the Catholic community the Pope has credibility be cause of his position and his credibility is enhanced by his well known acts of service and devotion his theological writings and his years of experience in church leadership When the Pope speaks or writes on religious issues he can rely heavily on his position and reputation Supreme Court justices also have considerable credibility by virtue of their position education and experience Even though other members of the legal com munity may know as much as or even more than a Supreme Court justice about particular legal issues a Supreme Court justice has considerable influence by Virtue of having been ap pointed to the court E7 E3 CHAPTER 1 But even those who hold positions of responsibility and in u ence need to rely to a certain degree on the art of rhetoric to be persuasive Those who are relatively unknown must rely on these arts even more For instance because of their traditional role in the academic community students are typically in a po sition where they may have limited credibility Consider for example the traditional research paper Teach ers expect students to include their own re ections and con clusions but teachers also expect students to rely heavily on the opinions of experts and authorities Students quote para phrase and summarize other writers merging their voices with voices of authority to create credibility and show what they have learned about their topic If a research paper came in with very few references the teacher would probably be suspicious perhaps wondering whether the student was guilty of plagiarism Teachers have different expectations for their fellow teachers and scholars In an essay by an established scholar a lot may be left unsaid because there is a body of common knowledge and assumptions about the topic that one has mastered as an expert Established scholars rely much more upon their own authoritative voices and less upon the voices of others Saying something that everyone else knows can label one as a begin ner Of course experienced scholars still cite their sources but the kind of sources they cite and the way in which they talk about their subject demonstrates that they are knowledgeable For students to achieve this same kind of credibility they also need to learn to talk about their subjects in a knowledgeable way When a student opens an essay with a sweeping panoram ic introduction beginning with Throughout the ages for example or In today s society teachers may fault the student for overgeneralization or lack of support But a famous historian can make sweeping claims about the course of history without a lot of speci c detail and without always quoting the opinions of other historians Ethos makes a difference There are some speci c strategies that can increase a writer s credibility Whether we want to or not in every act of commu nication we give an impression of ourselves The key in argu RHETORICAL PROOFS ing is to be in control as much as possible of how we present ourselves We manage credibility by presenting ourselves in the best possible way establishing a relationship with our audience that is appropriate for the situation STRATEGIES FOR ESTABLISHING ETHOS SHARING PERSONAL lNFORMATION Trust can come from what we know about a speaker or writer his or her position or role in the community prior behavior and knowledge or expertise When analyzing ethos in a written argument the rst step is to consider a writer s background If you don t know much about the writer then consider the background information he or she reveals Look for stories the writer tells or examples the writer gives from his or her own life Look for information about the author provided by an editor You might even do some research to nd out even more about the author Then consider the following questions What is the writer s standing in the community What position does he or she hold What kind of authority and in uence come with this posi tion 39 What is the writer s reputation What is the writer s education experience or expertise What about the writer s life is particularly appropriate for the issue under discussion As you construct your own arguments ask these questions about yourself and consider what information about your own life might be appropriate to share with your readers Abomch AN AUTHORHAHVE VOICE Writers can also establish credibility through the way they pres ent themselves For instance it is important for a job applicant to make a good impression through a resume and in an inter view Even if an applicant has experience education and ex pertise if these qualities do not come through on the resume or during the interview then the candidate won t be hired In 5amp3 CHAPTER other words it isn t enough to actually know what you re talk ing about you also have to sound like you know Writers can sound credible by adopting an authoritative voice This includes properly using the language of authority for what ever issue we are discussing We trust doctors educators and other experts in part because they sound like experts They speak the language of science and education languages that our society recognizes as authoritative If you want to sound knowledgeable about science you need to accurately use the language of science Experts also know how to support their claims with welldocumented appropriate evidence Studies expert opinion and statistics are not just an important part of a logical argument citing them can also establish credibility Writers can also assume an authoritative voice through a tech nique called voice merging Miller 1992 p 5 Voice merg ing occurs when a writer quotes paraphrases or alludes to an authoritative voice or to a voice that represents the values of the community By merging his or her voice with this authorita tive voice the writer adds that credibility to his own A political speaker for example might quote Thomas Jefferson James Madison George Washington or some other political hero to lend authority to the argument A religious leader might quote the Bible or some other sacred text Some writers quote or al lude to the works of literary gures considered great or impor tant William Shakespeare Charles Dickens Toni Morrison or others Citing such authorities is more than mere decoration it also lends credibility to the writer loEerEwNo WirH rHE READER When analyzing written arguments consider how writers con vey or create credibility by identifying with the values of the community When politicians show themselves with their fami lies playing football with a group of marines hiking the Grand Canyon or visiting a school or homeless shelter they are try ing to show that they identify themselves with the values of the community A writer does the same thing by using recogniz able examples sharing personal information or appealing to reasons that support community values RHETORICAL PROOFS Choosing the right words is another way to identify with the reader We trust those who speak our language One who speaks the language of the community seems to belong For example Martin Luther King Jr when addressing the African American community spoke the language of that community drawing upon his experience and training as a folk preacher But when he addressed liberal white audiences a main source of support for his campaign for civil rights he adapted his lan guage drawing upon his university training In both instances he strengthened his credibility by speaking the language of the people he was addressing Miller 1992 pp 9 12 SELECTING AN APPROPRIATE POINT or VIEW Point of view refers to the relationship the writer tries to es tablish with his or her readers A rstperson point of view us ing 1 or we can create an intimate personal and friendly relationship between writer and readers but I also draws attention to the writer as an individual Doing so can be use ful when a writer has particular expertise or relevant personal experience or when he or she can speak as a representative member of a group Using 1 may not be as effective how ever on formal occasions or when the personal experience of the writer may appear irrelevant limited or biased Some teachers believe that the rst person point of view is never ap propriate in academic writing but in recent years more and more academic authors are using I when sharing relevant personal information Using we emphasizes what a writer shares with readers but we can also alienate people who feel that they share very little with the writer Readers might also reject a writer who seems to be overly intimate in order to draw them in like avoiding a stranger who insists on giving them a hug A second person point of View using you immediately gains a reader s attention as when someone calls your name out in a crowd or looks directly into your eyes The second person point of view is often used in giving instructions or warnings and it lends itself very well to giving commands Used too much it can make a writer appear dictatorial preachy or condescend ing Using you can also create a distance between the writer tilt CHAPTER 4 and reader or put readers on the defensive particularly when they have some doubts about the writer s claims or motives A thirdperson point of View using he she it they or one gives a sense of objectivity and formality The third person point of view creates a distance between the writer the reader and the issue and it can give the impression that the writer is a detached and unbiased observer For this reason scientists and scholars often use the third person point ofview However the third person point of view can make a writer ap pear apathetic and impassive Point of View and levels of for mality are discussed further in Chapter 8 GTVTNC A BALANCED PRESENTATION Through their research social psychologists have discovered that we tend to trust someone who is apparently arguing against his or her own self interest Suppose for example that a con victed criminal was arguing that the judicial system is much too strict Would you nd that person credible But what if that same person was arguing that the criminal justice system is much too lenient By arguing that we should get tough on crime the convicted criminal is arguing against his own appar ent selfinterest and for that reason may be more believable Aronson 1999 pp 7879 We also tend to be suspicious of people who are obviously trying to persuade us A stock broker who offers us a tip on a stock may just be trying to sell his or her services But if we overhear that same stockbroker giving a tip to someone we are more likely to believe the tip because it s not presented as part of a sales pitch Aronson 1999 pp 8081 This research suggests that if we want to have greater credibility we should not give the impression that we are sell ing something or arguing in our own self interest One way to do this is to make sure that we give a balanced presentation that we make it Clear to the reader that we have considered and fairly presented all positions on a topic FALLACEES OF ETHUS A fallacy is an argument that seems reasonable but isn t an ar gument that is deceptive or manipulative in some way Fallacies of ethos work in two ways In the rst case a person misuses RHETORICAL PROOFS ethos by misrepresenting his or her authority In this case an author might try to win the trust of an audience by presenting himself or herself as knowledgeable trustworthy or interested when in reality he or she is just trying to take advantage of the audience s trust In the second case an author might attack an individual who really is credible in order to destroy that individual s authority AD HOMTNEM The Latin phrase ad hominem means to the person This term refers to a personal attack that has nothing to do with the argu ment Of course questioning a person s character or credibility is not necessarily fallacious It becomes so when the attack on a person s character is used as a distraction from the real issue For instance it would not be fallacious to attack a scientist s experimental results if you had reason to believe that he or she had falsi ed data An attack would be fallacious however if you based your criticism on the fact that the scientist had a string of outstanding parking tickets Some politicians use personal attacks as part of their campaign strategy This is called negative campaigning or mudsling ing A politician may rake up an opponent s past behavior even things the opponent did when he or she was quite young looking for anything that might damage the opponent s public image Sometimes politicians will even point to the irrespon sible behavior of an opponent s relatives siblings children in laws cousins as a way of attacking the candidate s current credibility But such attacks have little to do with the candi date s actual quali cations GUILT BY ASSOCIATION Guilt by association is an attack on an individual s credibil ity based upon that individual s association with a particular group This fallacy usually works in this way You generalize from the behavior of some members of the group to the group as a whole stereotyping all members of the group and then you identify the individual you are attacking with that group Racial stereotyping is one type of guilt by association For in stance a neighbor said he didn t like the fact that an Asian fam 3 a a CHAPTER ily had moved into our neighborhood because he had worked with some Chinese people and found them untrustworthy He assumed that because he didn t trust some Chinese people he couldn t trust anyone Chinese He also assumed that anyone with Asian features must be Chinese This particular family was Laotian POISONING THE WELL Awriter who poisons the well presents an argument in such a biased or emotional way that it is dif cult for an opponent to respond without looking dishonest or immoral This strategy is also meant as a distraction from the real issue and may involve personal attacks Here s an example Of course this liar will tell you that he didn t steal my stuff You can t believe a thief Go ahead and ask him he ll deny it How is the accused sup posed to respond The very act of asserting innocence in this case can be construed as a sign of guilt The emotional and manipulative nature of the language in this case is a distraction from the real issue who is guilty of stealing FALSE AUTHORLTY The fallacy of false authority occurs when an author tries to establish credibility without any real authority or when an audi ence is willing to listen to a person who is popular rather than one who is knowledgeable Con men use the fallacy of false au thority to trick people out of their money Advertisements may also use false authorities often by using celebrities to endorse various products A basketball player may be an expert on ath letic shoes but is an athlete any more quali ed than any other sweaty person to endorse deodorant Does playing a doctor on a daytime soap opera qualify someone to endorse a particular medical product or service just because someone is an expert in one area doesn t make that person an expert in another Having a PhD in chemistry doesn t necessarily make you an expert on educational issues PATHQS APPEALS TO EMUTEON In addition to gaining someone s trust in uencing your read ers emotions is also a powerful means of persuasion Aristotle uses the Greek word pathos which means emotion to de RHETORlCAL PROOFS scribe a strategy of persuasion that appeals to the emotions Overwhelming evidence from research shows that people are more likely to be persuaded if they are moved by a strong emo tion such as fear Aronson 1999 p 85 In fact although it isn t conclusive there is some research that suggests that a message that is primarily emotional is more persuasive than a message that is primarily logical Aronson 1999 p 84 This research suggests that even arguments that focus on logic will be more persuasive if they contain an emotional dimension A logical argument may be convincing but it won t usually be compelling People may change their minds because of a logical argument but pathos is more likely to cause them to change their behavior Although the Greek word pathos is the root for the English words pathetic empathy and sympathy pathos concerns a much wider range of emotions than pity In his Art of Rhetoric Aristotle 1991 discusses anger and mildness friendship and enmity fear and boldness shame and shamelessness gratitude pity and indignation envy and emulation pp 122 162 A skillful writer can use fear anger humor or compassion to put audi ence members in a particular emotional state such that they would receive a message that they might otherwise reject Emo tions literally put you in another state of mind When people are afraid or in love they may act in a way that to others might seem irrational Because emotional arguments carry such pow er you need to be careful how you use them and wary of how others may use them on you As you analyze an author s appeal to emotions or when you nd yourself responding emotion ally to an argument consider whether the emotions you are feeling are consistent with the issue and appropriate for the magnitude of the problem As you compose your own argu ments you need to be responsible in how you appeal to others emotions Emotional arguments can be found throughout an argument but the direct emotional appeal is often stated near the begin ning or the end Placed at the beginning of an essay an emo tional argument can catch readers interest and predispose them to read the argument with a favorable attitude Placed at CHAPTER the end an emotional appeal may move readers to action Re search suggests that strong emotion can be debilitating unless people are given some speci c things they can do Aronson 1999 p 87 so it would be appropriate at the end of an emo tional argument to give readers something speci c they can do to act on the emotion such as a phone number they can call or website they can visit to register their opinion In most academic writing the appeal to emotions is consid ered less convincing than ethos or logos particularly when the appeal is exaggerated or manipulative The academic commu nity usually expects that any appeal to emotions will be used to reinforce a logical argument STRATECHES FOR CREATENG EMOTIONAL APPEAL USING CONCRETE EXAMPLES Concrete examples give an argument presence they make an argument real and immediate for readers Journalists recog nize that running a photograph along with a news story makes the story more immediate Showing a picture of a young Child who has been kidnapped will create a much greater emotional response than merely reporting the child s kidnapping Pro viding personal information about the Child showing her toys and family or interviewing her classmates heightens the emo tional response A news story may contain statistics on how many families lack adequate food shelter or clothing but few may respond But if a reporter describes the plight of one par ticular family then readers are more likely to help The emotional response created by a concrete example may make the difference between action and inaction For exam ple on September 11 2001 the nation watched in horror as a terrorist attack destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City killing almost 3000 people includ ing over 300 re ghters The horror and emotion of the event were captured in Charles Porter s photo of re ghters carry ing the limp body of Father Mychaljudge chaplain of the New York City Fire Department from the scene of devastation This picture and others like it touched an emotional chord in the RHETORICAL PROOFS American people because it put a human face on the tragedy causing an outpouring of grief and sympathy Research by social psychologists shows that one powerful exam ple can be much more persuasive than statistics Even though studies and statistics may show that the Volvo is one of the saf est and most reliable cars on the road if your friend s cousin had a bad experience with a Volvo you probably won t buy one Even if a thousand people reported that they were satis ed with the Volvo this one counterexample will carry more weight Aronson 1999 p 90 And the more vivid the example the more persuasive it will be Eliot Aronson 1999 conducted an experiment in which he worked with home auditors from utility companies to persuade consumers to add weather stripping to their homes to make their homes more energy ef cient One group offered statis tics on the bene ts of these improvements and met with little success Only about 15 percent of homeowners agreed to make the improvements A second group used a vivid example ex plaining to homeowners that if they added up all of the cracks around all the doors and windows in their home it would be the same as a hole in their exterior wall the size of a basketball By using this example auditors were able to convince 61 per cent of homeowners to install weather stripping This one Vivid example made the difference pp 90 91 Vivid examples come from Vivid language Instead of just tell ing readers how they should feel writers try to re create an emotional experience in such a way that readers actually do feel the associated emotion WORD CHOICE Word choice is also important in creating an emotional re sponse Some words carry more emotional weight than others Writers need to pay particular attention to the connotations of words their suggested or implied meanings in addition to the denotative or dictionary meanings see Chapter 5 For instance the words cheap and inexpensive both have similar denotative meanings They both refer to something that can be bought at a lower price than expected However cheap can ti 58 CHAPTER Q carry a negative connotation of lower quality as well as lower price To say that a person is cheap means that he or she is careful with money but with the negative connotation of mi serly or stingy More positive words with roughly the same denotation are frugal or thrifty Some words carry such powerful emotional overtones that they color other terms that are associated with them Richard Weaver 1985 a political philosopher literary critic and rhe torical theorist calls such terms ultimate terms pp 211 212 These are highly emotional terms around which other terms cluster Ultimate terms with a positive connotation Weaver calls god terms 1985 p 212 Those with a negative con notation are called devil terms 1985 p 222 For instance in the 19505 and 19605 communism was a devil term for many Americans Anything or anyone associated with communism even obliquely was painted by anticommunists with the same broad brush In the 19505 at the height of the anticommunist crusade by Republican Senatorjoseph McCarthy of Wisconsin even the slightest association of a person with communism or left wing politics could ruin that person s life For more obvi ous reasons the word Nazi is another example of a devil term In our own time terrorism has become a devil term The follow ing words would be god terms for many Americans democracy liberty family prosperity When you analyze emotional language in an argument check to see if these emotional words form a pattern or cluster of related terms that may be connected to an ultimate term either a god term or a devil term Writers should also pay close attention to gurative language such as metaphor simile analogy allusion imagery hyperbo le understatement personi cation rhetorical questions and irony all of which are discussed in detail in Chapter 5 Figures of speech draw attention to themselves because they deviate from the expected For instance an environmental activist might refer to the clear cutting of timber as the rape of the earth Rape is a highly emotional term with seriously negative connotations It suggests violence and domination Readers would have dif culty responding positively to a word such as rape At the same time the word rape is used metaphorically and the comparison of clear cutting with the act of rape is obvi RHETORlCAL PROOFS ously meant to shock The comparison is likewise an example of personi cation because rape is an attack by one person on another Presenting the earth as a woman in this way may gain the unconscious sympathy of readers who feel for the Victims of sexual violence On the other side supporters of clearcutting might refer to this act as harvesting using a word that carries much more benign connotations Harvesting suggests farming and gaining the bene ts of one s own labors It may also evoke the nostalgia and respect that many Americans have for the traditional farmer FALLACIES OF PATHOS Emotions play an important role in persuasion particularly in moving people to act on their convictions But emotions can be easily manipulated as well Fallacies of pathos occur when an author uses emotions to obscure an issue divert attention away from the real issue lead others into errors in reasoning or exaggerate the signi cance of an issue Teachers for ex ample occasionally hear fallacious appeals to emotion from their students I once had a student who missed a lot of class and skipped some major assignments He turned in a nal es say but it showed signs of being thrown together at the last minute When I told him he wouldn t be passing the class he complained about how angry his parents would be if he lost his scholarship His implied argument was this You should give me a passing grade because my parents will be angry with me if you don t The assumption here is that performance in col lege courses should be measured by how parents will react to the nal grades This assumption was unacceptable to me but the student was hoping that the vividness of his emotional ap peal would distract me from the imsiness of the argument An POPULUM The Latin phrase ad populum means to the people The term refers to a fallacious argument that appeals to popular prejudices One of these is the bandwagon appeal an appeal to popularityif everyone else is doing it it must be right Here are a couple of examples It is all right for me to cheat on my taxes because everyone else does it It s all right for me to break the speed limit because I m just keeping up with the 593 I r332 CHAPTER ow of traf c Besides other people go faster than I do The assumption in these arguments is that just because something is popular or common practice it must be right Another ad populum fallacy is the appeal to traditional wisdom This fallacy is an appeal to what has been done in the past That s just the way we ve always done it A related fallacy is the appeal to pro oincialism the belief that the familiar is automatically superior to the unfamiliar That s just how it s done around here THREATSREWARDS The appeal to force is another name for a threat A threat di verts attention from the real issue to the negative consequences of not accepting the argument Extortion blackmail intimida tion hate speech racial slurs and sexual harassment are all examples of threats The appeal to reward is just the opposite of a threat diverting attention from the issue to what will be gained by accepting the point of View Buying votes trading favors and bribery are all examples of the appeal to reward RED HERRING The red herring fallacy probably takes its name from a trick once used by escaping prisoners dragging a sh across their path of escape to throw dogs off the scent A red herring is any attempt to draw attention away from the issue by raising irrel evant issues This diversion often involves obscuring the issue with more emotional issues Here is an example I don t think the president s economic plan is a good idea I mean what is he going to do about the violence in our inner cities IOGOS BUILDING LOGICAL ARGUMENTS The Greek word logos has several different meanings It can mean word thought reason or order Our English word logic derives from logos but logos has a broader meaning than logic Logos refers to arguing through reasoning the presen tation of rational thought through language Logos appeals to our ability to think ethos and pathos typically work on our non rational faculties our abilities to trust and feel Although ethos and pathos can be more compelling logos provides the backbone of arguing particularly for academic writing Logos provides an overall framework of which ethos and pathos are RHETORICAL PROOFS a part Arguments from ethos and pathos can be rationalized In other words they can be explained in terms of claims and reasons but arguments from logos require claims and reasons as their basic structure And although ethos and pathos are im portant to move people to action it is logos that leads to con viction to belief that lasts after the emotion passes Logos pro tects us against illegitimate or manipulative uses of language and allows us to re ect on what we feel and what we believe Although logos may not inspire people as much as ethos and pathos logos will often prevent people from acting foolishly or rashly The power of re ection and contemplation associated with 10 gos is what makes this appeal so important for academic writ ing Academic authors typically value certainty and they will usually approach conclusions tentatively until a preponder ance of evidence convinces them that the conclusion is true or useful This is why academic writers want to test one another s arguments and have their arguments tested by others This is why scientists usually try to replicate the experiments of other scientists why social scientists compare their data with the data of other social scientists or why art critics will check an au thor s interpretation or evaluation of a work against their own At its worst academic argument can become as contentious and rancorous as any other argument But at its best academic argument leads to critical thinking the ability to judge for our selves the rightness of a claim based on the available evidence Logos provides the key to this critical judgment When we supply reasons to support our opinions we discov er perhaps for the first time why we hold the opinions we do We may also discover that some cherished opinions have no rational basis In this way logical argument and critical thinking not only create new knowledge but they also can lead to selfknowledge to a better understanding of who we are and what we believe Critical thinking is part of the process of gain ing an education Through informed and responsible arguing we recognize truths that would otherwise go unnoticed The process of testing ideas through logical argument is a par ticularly important part of a college education According to g x E2 CHAPTER the philosopher Richard Rorty 1999 a college serves two functions providing students with cultural literacy and with critical literacy pp 114 126 Cultural literacy is an aware ness of the common knowledge of the community of educated people A degree in law or medicine for example certi es that the student who receives the degree has adequately learned the body of knowledge that scholars in the legal or medical communities value But a university serves the additional func tion of teaching critical literacy Critical literacy is the ability to question or explore what is believed to be true to challenge or dispute the claims and opinions of others in an attempt to clarify and understand Ideally a college is a place where people can come together to ask questions debate and dis cuss ideas in a responsible fashion This process of question ing and responding is critical thinking It takes place primar ily through language through reading writing and speaking Critical thinking can create tension but it also represents the ideal for education STRATEGIES FOR CREATING LOGICAL APPEAL So what makes a logical argument a good argument Philoso pher T Edward Damer 2001 provides four criteria to use to evaluate arguments relevance acceptability suf ciency and accountability pp 2331 These criteria are useful in analyz ing arguments or in building your own RELEVANCE First of all an argument needs to be relevant In other words the reasons and assumptions offered need to relate to the is sue being discussed You can test the relevance of reasons and assumptions by asking yourself If these reasons and assump tions are true would I be more or less likely to believe the truthfulness of the claims If you would be less likely to be convinced then there is a good chance that the reasons are irrelevant Testing the relevance of an argument is also a good way to check for manipulative uses of ethos and pathos Dam er 2001 p 24 If authority and emotion aren t really relevant to the argument then you can set these aside and focus on the heart of the argument RHETORICAL PROOFS ACCEPTABILITY In the process of analyzing arguments you may begin to think that any claim can be called into question In addition rea sons and assumptions can themselves become claims in need of additional support leading to a chain of reasoning with no apparent solid intellectual ground upon which you can build with any certainty Where does the justifying of claims reasons and assumptions come to an end Couldn t a stubborn person keep asking for more and more support disputing every state ment in an argument continually asking as a young child does Why Why Why If one wants to be stubborn yes but such orneriness becomes ridiculous after a while When argu ments have a context when they are a meaningful part of the life of a community then at some point they can be grounded in what the community accepts as credible authoritative or true the common sense or common knowledge of the com munity This stock of knowledge differs from one communi ty to another and not all members of any group completely agree on what constitutes common knowledge This is why disagreements arise in the rst place But still there are state ments and beliefs that most members of a community accept as true and an argument will be persuasive only when the rea sons and assumptions that justify the claim are grounded in the common beliefs of the community Reasons that are grounded in the common beliefs of the community are called commu nity based reasons One danger in relying on communitybased reasons and adapt ing your argument to the needs of your audience is that you may compromise the integrity of your own views In other words you may end up just telling people what they want to hear But it doesn t have to be this way The reasons you choose to justify your argument may not be the most compelling rea sons for you but they may be the most convincing for those you are addressing And if you can still accept these reasons you preserve your integrity I once had a student writing an essay about a controversy in the small town she came from A town ordinance forbade the con sumption and sale of alcohol in city parks Some citizens want 73 CHAPTER 2 ed to change the ordinance to make the sale and consumption of alcohol legal by special permit The intent of this proposed change was to make it possible for the town to attract concerts to the city parks which many believed would help the town s economy At the same time in uential religious groups in the town opposed the change because public drinking violated their religious beliefs or because they believed that such easy access to alcohol would destroy the moral ber of the town making it an unhealthy place to raise a family These groups argued that giving in on this drinking law would open the door to all kinds of compromises in the name of economic develop ment The issue had polarized the town Supporters of the change saw members of the religious groups as being selfrighteous and judgmental or as trying to protect their own interests When my student wrote her discovery draft her argument for herself she sided with those who objected to the proposed change on religious and moral grounds But she realized that because the town was so polarized these reasons might not be convincing to the community as a whole or to the town council Being an emergency room nurse at the local hospital which was in a neighboring city that did allow the sale of alcohol for park concerts she knew that on concert nights the emergen cy room was overloaded with concert goers who had had too much to drink or had run into trouble with those who had Her own son even had to wait for emergency medical care on a concert night So in her next draft she argued that allowing al cohol at concerts in her town in addition to the neighboring town would overload the local medical system and ultimately cost much more in human and monetary terms than it would gain Even though this was not the most compelling reason for my student it was a reason that she nonetheless believed in strong ly and one that added a new dimension to the debate an argu ment centered in the common values of the community After all who would deny the value of reliable medical care RHETORICAL PROOFS So how can you increase the probability that the reasons you offer will be acceptable to your audience Damer 2001 sug gests several ways 0 Build your argument on accepted common knowledge or shared beliefs and values 0 Draw upon your own experience and observation 0 Develop a chain of reasoning by building on the conclu sions of other good arguments 0 Draw upon undisputed eyewitness testimony or expert opinion p 26 SUFFICIENCY According to Damer 2001 there aren t clear cut guidelines for determining sufficiency You just need to ensure that your argument has enough reasons and assumptions with enough weight to be convincing to your argument As a general rule anecdotal evidence is not enough And a single example al though it may be vivid usually isn t adequate to support a point Because they can be tested by rigorous statistical meth ods studies of various kinds usually provide strong support for an argument p 28 One way to ensure that you have suf cient evidence is to engage in a dialogue with others Ask What kind of evidence or what amount of evidence would you require to accept this claim Determining suf ciency comes with experience and where there aren t established guidelines it usually needs to be negotiated ACCOUNTABILITY I have used the term accountability to describe what Damer 2001 calls the rebuttal principle According to this princi ple an argument should be able to offer an effective response to any other possible arguments p 29 In other words an argument needs to be accountable to other perspectives to counterarguments and counterexamples Some writers may think that by revealing to their readers other perspectives on an issue they may weaken their argument but the opposite is 17 CHAPTER true if they can give a reasonable response to these other ar guments If you really can t answer other arguments then per haps it s time to reconsider your position FALLACEES OF LOGOS Logical fallacies are arguments that look rational fair and val id but aren t If you take a logic class you will learn a lot about formal fallacies arguments that don t follow the proper form of a logical syllogism see Chapter 2 The following are com mon informal fallacies errors in reasoning related to claims reasons and assumptions BEGGING THE QUESTION You beg the question when you offer a reason that is really just a restatement of the conclusion For example You should exercise because it s good for you is just another way of saying You should exercise because you should exercise That is it begs readers to ask How is exercise good for me A writer also begs the question when he or she offers a conclusion with out adequate support or uses reasons or assumptions that are just as controversial as the conclusion Consider the following familiar argument Abortion is wrong because it is murder This argument doesn t really advance the conversation about abortion because it offers as a reason one of the primary points of contention in the abortion issue is a fetus really an indi vidual human life that can be murdered COMPLEX QUESTION A complex or loaded question is really two questions phrased as one A famous example is Have you stopped beating your wife The two questions phrased here as one are Have you ever beaten your wife and If so have you stopped As the question is phrased answering either yes or no will get a husband in trouble Yes I used to beat her but I stopped No I still beat her Another famous example is this Are you aware that your tie clashes with your suit The introduc tory phrases Are you aware or Did you know usually signal a complex question RHETORICAL PROOFS EQUWOCATION Equivocation is using one term for two different de nitions When using this fallacy an author will often have one de ni tion in mind while allowing the audience to think that he or she means something else When President Clinton was asked about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky he insisted that he did not have sexual relations with that woman Many Americans accused him of equivocating in this case with the commonplace de nition of sexual relations or the identity of that woman HASTY GENERALIZATIONSWEEPING GENERALIZATION A hasty generalization is another name for jumping to conclu sions It is a conclusion formed on scant evidence Here is an example They laid off ve people at work today That probably means the country is going into recession The assumption in this argument is that a few people being laid off at one of ce is a sure sign of a coming recession But the economy is so large and complex that ve people being laid off at one of ce would have no effect This conclusion requires more evidence A sweeping generalization is similar to a hasty generalization It involves applying a statement that is true for one particu lar situation to another situation without considering how the two situations may differ Here is an example My accounting degree really prepared me well for law school Everyone who wants to go to law school should major in accounting The assumption in this argument is that what is true for the writer is true for everyone The argument ignores important differ ences among students Some people feel well prepared for law school after studying English political science or philosophy FALSE ANALoov An analogy is a powerful persuasive tool because it presents an argument in interesting and memorable terms Analogies provide the assumptions that ground many arguments An analogy becomes fallacious however when the differences be tween the things compared are greater than the similarities When the United States became involved in wars against com munists in Korea and Vietnam government leaders justi ed 7 CHAPTER 4 their actions by referring to the domino theory According to this theory if communists were allowed to take over one country neighboring countries would also fall to communism like a line of dominoes risking world domination by commu nist nations This analogy is a powerful and memorable image but it ignores the fact that international politics is much more complex than stacking dominoes The domino theory was also based on the assumption that Asian nations were like Europe an nations in their politics and that one Asian nation Korea was pretty much like another Vietnam These assumptions proved to be false as well POST Hoc The full Latin name for this fallacy is post hoc ergo propier hoe a phrase that means after this therefore because of this This fallacy refers to an error in reasoning based on the assumption that just because one event follows another the first caused the second A lot of superstitions originate in this fallacy A person walks under a ladder and a bucket of paint falls on his head so he tells people that walking under a ladder brings bad luck The problem is that walking under the ladder didn t cause the bucket to fall unless he bumped the ladder further to jump to the conclusion that there is a connection between ladders and bad luck is a hasty generalization Buckets don t fall ev ery time someone walks under a ladder We just remember the times they do SLIPPERY SLOPE The slippery slope is another fallacy of causality It occurs when you argue that one event will inevitably lead through a series of related events resulting in disaster It s found in the familiar warning given to kids If you steal a candy bar then you will steal toys then bikes then cars and then you ll nd yourself on death row It is true that most criminals started with petty crimes but it isn t true that every kid who steals a candy bar will turn into a murderer This argument is just designed to scare kids logically it doesn t work The slippery slope fallacy is a favorite of political extremists who argue that voting for one candidate or the other will drive the country to ruin It is true that voting has consequences but a lot of other decisions RHETORICAL PROOFS would have to be made before an individual could ruin the government You ll hear extremists argue that one particular bill this one Supreme Court nominee or just a slight increase in taxes will all bring the country to unavoidable disaster Of course fatal decisions can be made but as with any causal ar gument the writer should be prepared to explain exactly how the causal chain works OVERSIMPLIHCATION Oversimpli cation occurs when a writer makes an argument that reduces complex issues to a simple argument An over simpli cation may have some truth but because it leaves out important information it is misleading Here is an example Jogging is good for you Everybody ought to jog every day It may be true all other things being equal that jogging is good for you but some people may have conditions that make jog ging harmful or inappropriate One kind of oversimpli cation is oversimpli ed cause This fallacy occurs when a writer tries to reduce a complex event or phenomenon to one simple cause such as arguing that school violence is caused by video games These may contribute to violence among some students but a complex issue such as school violence can t be reduced to such a simple cause Because causality typically involves complex re lationships the oversimpli ed cause is quite common STACKING THE DECK Gamblers stack the deck in their favor by arranging the cards so that they will win Writers stack the deck by ignoring any evidence or arguments that don t support their position For example a drug company might stack the deck by releasing only the positive results of experiments on a new drug sup pressing any negative results I once experienced stacking the deck when buying a used car The person trying to sell me the car talked about how wonderful the car was After I bought the car the person trying to sell me an extended warranty pointed out all the things that could go wrong with the car In both cases these sales representatives were stacking the deck by ig noring either the good or bad qualities of the car Whenever you re hearing only one side of a story you should wonder what s being left out 7 CHAPTER APPEAL TO EGNORANCE The burden of supporting an argument falls on the person making it A writer who makes an appeal to ignorance refus es to accept this burden of proof and tries to use the lack of evidence as evidence to support a claim Here is an example Bigfoot the Loch Ness monster and extraterrestrials must re ally exist because no one has ever proved they don t In fact those who make the claim Bigfoot exists are the ones who need to support the claim It would be a mistake however to assume that Bigfoot doesn t exist just because you don t have evidence that he does Bigfoot doesn t exist is also a claim that requires support NON SEQUETUR The Latin phrase non sequitar means it does not follow This refers to a conclusion that has no apparent connection to the reasons Non sequiturs are often used in advertising For example a car may be pictured with a beautiful woman draped across the hood the implied argument being Look at this beautiful woman You should buy this car But there is no clear connection between the conclusion and the reason The woman is just there to get your attention It is not possible to identify a set of assumptions or reasons that would link the reason and conclusion in a sensible way EALSE DILEMMA The false dilemma or either or fallacy involves trying to force readers to accept a conclusion by presenting only two options one of which is clearly more desirable than the other Rarely are there only two positions on any issue I have to ad mit however that my wife and I have used this strategy on our kids Do you want to get started on your homework or piano lessons first Hardsell salespersons and negotiators often use the false dilemma to close a deal to get people to say yes Do you want to pay cash or credit for that eliminating the option that you might not want to buy it at all If you don t act now you ll never get another chance Would you rather buy wholelife insurance or risk leaving your family without an income RHETORICAL PROOFS STRAWPERSON Imagine how much easier it would be to knock over a scare crow than a real person The strawperson is an oversimpli ed and distorted version of another s viewpoint that is easy to re fute A writer usually resorts to setting up a strawperson when his or her own arguments are not particularly convincing In such a case the writer has to weaken the other point of View to the point that it can be easily challenged The strawperson works best when the other person is unable to respond or give a proper account of his or her own viewpoint CONCLUSION As Aristotle makes clear in his definition of rhetoric there is a power that comes from knowing how to identify and use means of persuasion Once you learn what they are you will see them in use all around you Although there are many spe ci c techniques for how to build credibility create emotion or build logical arguments focusing on these broad strategies can make you a more effective communicator and help you to develop your own beliefs and values REFERENCES Aristotle 1991 On rhetoric A theory of civic discourse GA Kennedy Ed 8c Trans New York Oxford University Press Aronson E 1999 The social animal New York Worth Pub lishers Damer T E 2001 Attackingfaulty reasoning Belmont CA Wadsworth Miller K 1992 Voice of deliverance The language of Martin Luther King jr and its sources New York The Free Press Reiner R Director 1995 The American president Film United States Castle Rock Rorty R 1999 Philosophy and social hope London Penguin Weaver R 1985 The ethics of rhetoric Davis CA Hermagoras
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