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Posted: February 7th, 2024

The Aristotelian Model of Argument

The Aristotelian Model of Argument

One of the most influential and widely used models of argumentation is the Aristotelian model, which was developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. The Aristotelian model consists of three main elements: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos refers to the credibility and character of the speaker or writer, pathos to the emotional appeal and persuasion of the audience, and logos to the logical and rational reasoning of the argument. In this paper, I will explain how these three elements work together to form a persuasive and effective argument, using examples from various fields and disciplines.

Ethos is the first element of the Aristotelian model, and it establishes the trustworthiness and authority of the speaker or writer. Ethos can be achieved by demonstrating one’s expertise, knowledge, experience, or qualifications on the topic, as well as by showing respect, honesty, fairness, and goodwill towards the audience. Ethos also involves adapting one’s style, tone, and language to suit the expectations and values of the audience. For example, a scientist who wants to convince other scientists of a new theory would use technical terms, data, and evidence to show his or her competence and credibility, while a politician who wants to persuade voters of a new policy would use simple words, anecdotes, and testimonials to show his or her sincerity and empathy.

Pathos is the second element of the Aristotelian model, and it appeals to the emotions and feelings of the audience. Pathos can be achieved by using vivid language, imagery, metaphors, stories, humor, or rhetorical questions that elicit sympathy, anger, fear, joy, or other emotions in the audience. Pathos also involves understanding the needs, values, beliefs, and attitudes of the audience, and tailoring one’s message to fit their interests and concerns. For example, a lawyer who wants to convince a jury of a defendant’s innocence would use emotional words, gestures, and facial expressions to evoke pity, compassion, or outrage in the jury members, while a marketer who wants to sell a product to consumers would use positive words, colors, and sounds to evoke happiness, satisfaction, or desire in the consumers.

Logos is the third element of the Aristotelian model, and it relies on the logic and reason of the argument. Logos can be achieved by using facts, statistics, examples, analogies, or syllogisms that support one’s claim and refute opposing views. Logos also involves organizing one’s argument in a clear, coherent, and consistent manner that follows the rules of deductive or inductive reasoning. For example, a philosopher who wants to prove a moral principle would use premises that lead to a valid conclusion based on general or specific rules of logic. A historian who wants to explain a historical event would use evidence that leads to a sound conclusion based on causal or correlational relationships.

The Aristotelian model of argument is a powerful tool that can be used in various fields and disciplines to persuade and inform others. By combining ethos, pathos, and logos in an appropriate balance and proportion according to the purpose, audience,
and context of the argument. A speaker or writer can create a convincing and effective argument that appeals to both the head and the heart of the audience.


Aristotle. Rhetoric. Translated by W. Rhys Roberts. New York: Dover Publications,

Cockcroft R., Cockcroft S., Persuading People: An Introduction to Rhetoric.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2005.

Corbett E.P.J., Connors R.J., Classical Rhetoric for The Modern Student.
New York: Oxford University Press 1999.

Tindale C.W., Rhetorical Argumentation: Principles Of Theory And Practice.
Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications 2004.

Walton D.N., Fundamentals Of Critical Argumentation.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2006.


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