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Logos, Pathos, and Ethos

Logos, Pathos, and Ethos

Author: Sydney Bauer

This lesson introduces logos, pathos, and ethos as rhetorical devices.

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Logos, Pathos, Ethos... appealing to the audience

Logos, Pathos, and Ethos as audience appeals

Before we get into how a writer uses Logos, Pathos, and Ethos to make an appeal to the reader or an audience, let’s first talk about what it means to “appeal to an audience.”

The word “appeal” generally means to entice, or to make something attractive or pleasing; but to “appeal to” someone is to target a specific quality, principle, or value in that person in order to get the desired response from them. The writer is trying to dispose, or arrange the opinions of, readers or audience members so that they accept a claim, or respond the way the writer wants them to. It is not the act of convincing, it is the act of positioning the audience so that they can be convinced.

Logos, pathos, and ethos appeal specifically to different qualities or values held by readers or members of an audience.

Logos: appeals to logic and reason

A writer using logos is appealing to the common sense and rational mind of the reader or audience member. In order to do that, the writer relies on any hard evidence or facts, as well as reason, as the basis of his or her claims. Sometimes this type of audience appeal can involve discussing the internal logic of the claims themselves.

Pathos: appeals to emotion

A writer using pathos is not only appealing to the emotions of the reader or audience member, but is also attempting to get his or her audience to feel certain emotions. The writer will often address the audience or readers on a personal level in order to target their emotions. The writer may appeal directly to the needs, desires, and values of the reader or audience member in order to appeal to their emotions. Because people make decisions based on emotion, pathos can be effective (especially when combined with other audience appeals).

Ethos: appeal based on character

A writer using ethos attempts to appeal to the audience by presenting him or herself as honest, credible, fair, sincere, and an expert on the topic (which can eventually become an argument from authority). The writer is appealing to audience’s want to see integrity and truthfulness by establishing his or her own character.

Logos, Pathos, and Ethos