Argumentation can be described as the SMart approach to persuasion. It combines appeals to logic, or the Scientific Method, along with an appreciation of artistic attributes that that make the appeals more persuasive and convincing.
Specifically Aristotle discusses three drivers of persuasive success: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. Good facilitators ought familiarize themselves with all three. Here’s what Aristotle might say to facilitators who cannot remove bias.
Greek for ‘character’, ethos captures a sense of credibility and refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the presenter. Ethos may be expressed through tone and style of message, transforming the speaker into an authority on the subject.It lends itself to the creation of reputation and exists independently from the message.The impact of ethos is often called an argument’s ‘ethical appeal’ or the ‘appeal from credibility.’ (Pre-Test)
Aristotle tells us that the appeal from ethos should not come from appearances, but from a person’s use of language. To improve one’s credibility, minimize or avoid using the first person singular “I” or “me.” Substitute the integrative “we” or “us” or refer to the collective and pluralistic “you.” Today, advertising relies much on ethos and takes the form of credible spokespeople, such as Michael Jordan selling underwear. The historical view holds that three characteristics help fortify ethos, all that should be embraced by a facilitator, namely:
- Good moral character,
- Good sense, and
Logos (Greek for ‘word’) refers to the internal consistency and reasoning of the message—clarity of the claim, logic of its rationale, and effectiveness of supporting evidence. Presumably Aristotle’s favorite approach, ‘logos’ captures the logic used to support claims (induction and deduction) and will likely include supporting facts and statistics.
The impact of logos may be called an argument’s logical appeal.
A facilitator supports inductive logic by challenging participants for facts, evidence, and support. They allow them to develop a general conclusion. Or, you can facilitate deductive reasoning by challenging participants with a general proposition and then eliciting from them specific facts, evidence, and support.
Pathos (Greek for ‘suffering’ or ‘experience’) is frequently referred to as an emotional appeal but it also refers to an ‘appeal to the audience’s sympathies and imagination.’ The persuasive appeal of pathos facilitates participants’ sense of identity, their self-interests, and emotions. Many consider pathos the strongest of the appeals.
Be cautious as appeals to participants’ sense of identity and self-interest exploit common biases. They naturally bend in the direction of what is advantageous to them, what serves their interests or the interests of the groups to which they belong.
The three appeals above belong to some of the styles used to describe rhetoric, which we define as
“the art of adjusting ideas to people, and people to ideas.”
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