The goal of argumentative writing is to persuade the audience that the presented ideas are valid or more valid than the arguments of an opposing party. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion and appeals into three categories: logos, ethos, and pathos. Ethos, otherwise known as the credibility portion of the argument, is a rhetorical concept that utilizes scholarly sources as a way of providing credible sources. We tend to believe people whom we respect. One of the central problems of argumentation is to project an impression to the reader that you are someone worth listening to, in other words making yourself as author into an authority on the subject of the paper, as well as someone who is likable and worthy of respect.
Pathos, otherwise known as the emotional portion of the argument, is used to gain the reader’s support by appealing to his or her emotions. We can look at texts ranging from classic essays to contemporary advertisements to see how pathos– emotional appeal– are used to persuade. Language choice affects the audience’s emotional response, and emotional appeal can effectively be used to enhance an argument. Logos, the factual portion of an argument uses factual evidence, statistics and research as a means of reasoning.
This will be the most important technique we will study, and Aristotle’s favorite. We’ll look at deductive and inductive reasoning, and discuss what constitutes effective and persuasive reasoning to back up your claims. Giving reasons is the heart of argumentation, and cannot be emphasized enough. We’ll study the types of support you can use to substantiate your thesis and look at some of the common logical fallacies in order to avoid them in your writing.
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