Pathos, Logos, and Ethos: Using Rhetoric to Win an Argument
Argumentative essays in particular need to be effective at convincing your audience to agree with yourstance or perspective. That’s where rhetoric comes in. Rhetoric is the art of using persuasive techniques to appeal to your specific audience.
Think about a politician making a speech. If that politician is campaigning to a working-class audience, they’re probably going to talk about raising the minimum wage, universal healthcare, lowering the cost of living, or lowering taxes. These are all topics that appeal to this particular audience because working class populations tend to be in the lower to middle class financial bracket, so talking about better economic security appeals to them.
In order to properly use rhetoric, you need to know who your audience is and what they care about. This is how you can present arguments and supporting evidence that hits your point home and convinces them to believe your perspective. There are three main types of tools you can use to create a persuasive argument:
- Pathos: Emotional appeal (evoking an emotional response)
- Logos: Logical appeal (facts, statistics, examples)
- Ethos: Ethical appeal (credibility, trust, authority)
Depending on the specific topic and subject you’re writing about, you’ll want to use one or all of these elements in your argument. For example, if you’re writing a scientific paper, you’ll want to rely on statistics and data for logical, factual arguments. If you’re writing a paper about a controversial human rights issue, you’ll probably want to use a combination of pathos and ethos to appeal to reason and emotion or to promote sympathy about your subject.
Structure and Flow
While marking your paper, your professor is going to look at the way your paper flows and how it’s structured to maintain that flow throughout the entire piece. You can make sure that your paper flows by using effective topic and transition sentences and organizing your paragraphs in a logical way.
For example, if you’re writing a historical research paper, you’ll want to organize your paragraphs chronologically in the order that they happened. When making an argument, you want to put your second strongest point first, your weakest point in the middle, and your strongest point at the end to leave your readers with a strong finish.
Writing an essay outline will help you keep on top of structure and flow. No one wants to read a paper that’s mismatched and jumps back and forth between subjects or arguments. If your reader can’t really
follow what you’re saying, you’re going to lose their interest very quickly. Keep all of your points together and make sure the evidence is in the right place.
One of the key elements you’ll need to use to make sure your paper flows properly and effectively is through effective transitions at the beginning of each paragraph. Your reader wants to know why one
thing is leading to another, and you want to make connections to each of your points to help your paper flow. Here are some good transition words to use:
- In addition to/additionally
- As a result
Bringing it Home with The Conclusion
In the conclusion, you’ll wrap up and summarize your arguments. This paragraph should be structured the opposite way your introduction is: start narrow, and then broaden out your ideas and summaries.
Begin by restating your thesis in different words than you used in your introduction paragraph. Keep the order of the arguments, but rephrase them in a new way. Then, go on to summarize your arguments. Include the main points from each of your body paragraphs and a brief overarching idea about each one.
Don’t ramble on and just rehash everything you said in your body paragraphs. Pick the most important things you said and put them into context.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to make a broader connection in your conclusion. Talk about why this topic matters, why we are talking about it today, or how it connects to the other material in the course you’re taking. The point is to make a lasting impression on your audience and give them something they can keep thinking about after they’re done reading.
Do not introduce new information in your conclusion. You should only be discussing the ideas and arguments you’ve already presented. If you really feel that this new information is relevant and important, consider putting it in a body paragraph.
Creating a Good Title
Your essay is going to need a good, catchy title. It helps to leave this part until the end, when you’ve done all the research and the writing and examined key concepts, keywords, or theories.
Once all of the writing is done, you have a final idea of what it’s really all about and you can use this to think of something that would really stand out from the rest. Perhaps you came across something in your research that made you rethink your entire perspective. Maybe you learned a new keyword that you’d never heard before. Even if you have a working title at first, you’re likely going to find something better by the time you’re done writing.
Think about your essay sitting in a pile on your professor’s desk. Which title is really going to stand out from your classmates’ papers and make your professor want to read it first? The one with a generic
statement about their thesis, or the one that presents an interesting idea? Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with your title. It still has to be academic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it.
Ultimately, your title should be something original, unique, and catchy, but it should also relate directly to your thesis. This sounds complicated, but it’s a very important element of your essay. It’s the first thing someone is going to see, even before your catchy introduction.
If you think about it in terms of a job interview, your first impression at the interview is your introduction, but your title is the resume that
got you noticed in the first place. If you’re having trouble coming up with a good title, it helps to write out a list of options to choose from.
Sometimes the more you write a title out, the stronger your ideas become. If you still can’t decide, give your list to a classmate or a friend and see which one they like the best. Ask them which title would make them want to keep reading. Here are some more helpful tips for developing a good title for your essay:
- Take your thesis and see if you can narrow it down into three or four words.
- Write using the active voice.
- Keep it concise. The longer and more complicated your title is, the more boring it’s going to become.
- Make sure it’s accurate and relevant to the content of your essay.
- Don’t stray from the truth just to grab someone’s attention. Lying is wrong.
- If all else fails, do a quick Google search to see other titles people have used. But don’t steal them. This is for inspiration purposes only.