Ethical, Emotional and Logical Appeals

Ethical, emotional and logical appeals are the three persuasive tools used mainly by writers and speakers to drive their arguments to their respective audiences i.e. readers and listeners. It is for this reason that they are also known as argumentative appeals. The goal is to convince people to take a certain opinion (Corbet, 1990)

To effectively persuade, one needs to appeal to the mind as well as to emotions. Logical appeals are rooted on rational arguments supporting a certain set of assumptions which are already accepted by the audience. The writer or speaker uses strong logical claims with appropriate qualifiers and claims such as the use of statistics, personal experience, anecdotes or expert authority. Reasons must however be fully explained and evidence must not be misused or over generalized otherwise this form of appeal may not work. One must also acknowledge opposing views.

Emotional appeals on the other hand draw from perceived potential threats in this case. To convince, a writer will have to cite specific examples of these threats in order to effectively tap the emotions of the reader or listener. One may thus in turning the reader’s opinion against an invasion by the British Army on their country tell them that their children and women will suffer in rape and deaths. One must also establish a connection with the audience to use them effectively. This is a powerful tool given that humans are emotional creatures especially when used to reinforce logical arguments complemented with good diction and imagery. Advertisements usually utilize this kind of appeal. This kind of argumentative appeals has also been used to spur hatred between groups of people because of its simplistic approach to complex problems through the use of symbols and manipulation of emotions through fear, hate and prejudice over reason (George, 1991)

Ethical appeals usually appeal to the sense of right or wrong in the audience for example the need to help needy people. It usually establishes the writer or speaker as a fair, honest, open minded and knowledgeable about a given subject matter. In this case he becomes trustworthy and credible in the eyes of the audience. The writer is seen as humane, sincere, honest and considerate while also understanding the objections that might arise from his audience. While using this appeal, one must however be careful not to appear dishonest in presenting information or to be advocating intolerant viewpoints.

Emotional, logical and ethical appeals are best used in combination but they must not be abused if one desires to be effective in his presentation. The use of the three appeals must be balanced otherwise they will lack to appeal and appear distorted in the eyes of the audience (Borchers, 2006)

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