persuading (with rhetorical appeals)

The goal of argumentative writing is to persuade your audience that your ideas are valid. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion, also called appeals, into three categories: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. The most important of these for academic writing are ethos and logos. Below are some ways that student writing can make use of these appeals.
This is an appeal to your credibility, i.e., showing that you are an expert and a person who can be trusted. You can appeal to your ethos by:
  • Quoting the most important authorities in the field
  • Citing the source of any idea you discuss
  • Writing in an appropriately formal style
  • Making your writing clear and easily understandable
  • Using correct grammar and spelling
This is an appeal to logic, i.e., offering proofs based on clear reasoning and evidence. You can appeal to logos by:
  • giving reasons for a claim (argument = claim + reasons)
  • giving (real or textual) evidence and/or examples
  • clearly showing logical relations (resemblance, contiguity, cause and effect)
  • avoiding logical fallacies (circular reasoning, begging the question, ad hominem, etc.)
This is an appeal to emotion, i.e., offering proofs based on readers’ beliefs and feelings. You can appeal to pathos by:
  • mentioning shared beliefs and values (but not assuming them)
  • using effective examples (but not unnecessarily shocking or titillating ones)
  • using some elevated language (but not exaggeration, hyperbole, or abuse)