You may not know it but you need logos, ethos, pathos, and even kairos to come up with a good essay. Basically, these things, also called modes of persuasion, ethical strategies, or rhetorical appeals, can help you convince your audience and support your arguments. These four elements of persuasion were even described by Aristotle in his Rhetoric, and he definitely knew how to be persuasive. Now you can get a short summary of the ancient philosopher's research and use his knowledge in your favor!
Understanding Logos, Ethos, and Pathos
So, what are logos, ethos, and pathos? You can see them as three elements of an effective persuasive message, which can come in handy for your argumentative essay. You're using them already, there's no doubt, but you're just doing it unknowingly for now. But by knowing them well and using them purposefully you can get as convincing and confident as by using a professional rhetorical approach. Also, knowing the structure of your persuasion will improve the structure of your speech overall, both written and spoken. So get to know logos, ethos, pathos, and kairos better.
What Is Logos?
Logos is the persuasive technique appealing to the rational part. It's related to the facts you use to support your argument and make your idea look more attractive to the audience. Logos is usually called a "logical appeal", and it comes in the form of the citation of statistics, facts, charts, graphs, etc. It makes your statement more reliable and legit by using undoubtful things that can be checked and measured.
There are different rational modes of thinking to use, here are some examples:
- Deductive reasoning — going from a broad, general claim to a specific point.
- Inductive reasoning — using some specific examples to support a broad generalization.
- Comparison — highlighting the strength of your claim by comparing your case with a similar one in which the fairness of your position is clearer.
- Cause/effect thinking — basing your position on making assumptions about the future, making predictions that prove you're right.
- Exemplification — listing many examples of evidence to support your opinion.
- Coherent thought — structuring your thoughts properly so that they are easy to receive and understand.
Examples of Logos
Let’s pretend you need to write an argumentative essay reflecting global warming. Here are some examples of logos you can use to make your arguments stronger.
- The average surface temperature of the Earth has risen about 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century.
- NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment have data showing that Greenland lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2019.
- When it comes to surface ocean waters, their level of acidity has increased by about 30% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
What Is Ethos
Ethos is another important brick in the wall of your persuasion, it appeals to your character and evaluates your opinion in terms of your trustworthiness. It relies on your credibility as a speaker and decreases or increases the level of trust that the audience has towards you depending on how reliable you are as a source. Ethos is not only related to your own authority and achievements but also to the values or ideologies that your potential listener or reader may share.
There are several ways to show people your credibility, such as:
- Describing more than one opinion and providing counterarguments to show that you're knowledgeable and open to other positions.
- Referring either directly or indirectly to the beliefs that matter to the audience, which may also include using special language, phrasing, imagery, or other writing styles, to build the bond.
- Demonstrating your reputation, expertise, experience, or academic knowledge in a field.
Examples of Ethos
Let’s continue with your discussion paper on global warming. Here are some examples of ethos that can support your argument.
- I have a degree in Biology and I can assure you the way this company disposes of its waste can harm the environment.
- My family has a business related to fishing and I can say that for the last 15 years, the level of water quality has been decreasing dramatically.
- As I've spent the last summer as a volunteer for a non-profit environmental organization, I know that the effect of global warming is even more dreadful than the media portray it.
What Is Pathos?
Pathos focuses your audience's attention on their emotions and how your writing corresponds with them. It appeals to such things as empathy, imagination, feelings, fears, etc. Combined with two other modes, this emotional one can help you build a strong argument that will convince any audience that you're right.
Here are some examples of what can help you:
- Describing things, people, places, events, and ideas in an expressive and relatable way.
- Creating vivid images that make readers not only understand but also feel your claim.
- Sharing personal stories to build a stronger connection with your readers.
- Using emotionally charged vocabulary to reflect a specific mindset and create a specific atmosphere.
- Appealing to the facts that may affect your audience and their lives so that they can actually relate to the things you're saying.
Examples of Pathos
As we keep going with your imaginary discussion essay about global warming, let's see what pathos examples can be useful.
- Due to global warming hurricanes will become stronger and more intense, which is a life-threatening change.
- Extreme heat affects not only people's health, but also energy consumption, agricultural industry, and economics.
- Obviously, the rising of the temperature leads to declining water supplies, which means the price of just an ordinary water bottle will increase drastically in no time.
Bonus: What Is Kairos?
This one is way less-used but still present. Kairos stands for "right time". And it basically refers to the optimal moment to take action. You can make your claim stronger by building a connection between your position and the actual situation you and your audience are in right now. Your logos, ethos, and pathos need to be served in a perfect moment to strike effectively, and that's when kairos comes into play.