Critical response to five articles/readings

Posted: November 29th, 2013





Critical response to five articles/readings


            In the five identified articles, the main theme under consideration is Aristotle’s argumentative concepts. These are the Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Ethos is the form of persuasion where the persuader convinces the person of interest based on his good moral character, his goodwill, and good sense (Henning, 1998). However, in the changing world, where one’s influence is now based on the outward appearance or the material possessions, the perception of ethos has changed, being based not on a person’s moral character, but on his influence. Pathos is the persuasive argument based on engaging the party’s emotions to make him agree with the persuader. By creation of some emotional sense in relation to the subject of interest, the persuader gains support of the person he or she addresses.

Logos is another Aristotelian principle that is used in basing an argument. It involves convincing the other party basing one’s arguments on logic. Logical appeal may be inductive based on creation of a conclusion from a series of similar results over a period. Alternatively, it can be deductive where a certain amount of similar results in the past is taken and used in creation of a conclusion. The conclusion does not always apply in all cases. When deducting the argumentation employed in any story or article, it is important to understand the background of the characters and the topic in question. It is also important to understand the context in which the character was compelled to convince others of the correctness of his argument.

In many situations in life, one finds themselves in a position where they require applying theoretical principles in order to convince others of their argument. Some such situations are portrayed in the five given stories and articles. The unifying elements in the five different articles are their basis of argumentation and the principles involved. There is application of Aristotle’s argumentation though they vary based on the situation fro example in the story “Where are you going, where have you been?” there is a man, Arnold, and a 15-years-old girl, Connie. Arnold uses the Pathos argumentative approach to convince Connie to come along with him, since he threatens her family’s safety if she refuses. In the story by Arthur Clarke, “The Nine Billion Names of God”, the theme is about monks trying to come up with all the possible names of God, which would consequently lead to the end of the world, as God’s purpose for the man on earth would be completed. In this story, relating to the moral character of monks, there is application of the Ethos principle where the monks put out their argument to the computer operators.

In the short story “Man to Send Rain Clouds”, the argumentative principle applied by the two brothers to the priest was by appealing to his emotions, as they knew that the priest had a helping heart, so they were certain that he could not refuse to help them. In “The Declaration of Sentiments and Revolutions”, the women are outraged, fighting for their freedom and their rights. This occurrence is explainable based on the logical theory that is the Logos Aristotle’s argument, where women are convinced based on the logical evidence available. “My people” is a speech by Chief Seattle towards the white settlers about their disregard for ancestral land. This emotive speech applies the Pathos principle, as it reaches to the human character on reverence for land and the dead ancestors.



Where are you going, where have you been?

In this article, the writer portrays the application of Aristotle’s argumentative principles by showing how Arnold convinces Connie to come out and go with him by applying the Pathos persuasion means. By making her understand that her actions determine the safety of her family, he appeals to her inner emotions to protect her family, hence urging her to come to the decision of going with him. Basing this article on the Toulmin’s argument model (Henning 1998), Arnold lays a claim to Connie that she should come outside to him, instead of forcing him to go in and get her. He further warrants this action that it would result in the overall good of her entire family if she came along, as he would not harm them (Oates, 1966). He then provides the backing to this warrant that, if she came along by her will, he would not be forced to get into the house to get her, an action that would anger him. This is based on the cause and effect principle where we understand the action of Connie, as we know the cause to be the threats made on her family resulting to her leaving her house.

This article, written by Joyce Carol Oates, was inspired by a series of murders by Charles Schmid in Tucson, Arizona. Such murders still occur, even in the current age of security measures, and the perpetrators use similar tactics to persuade the victims into their trap using their emotions towards their family to put their own lives at risk. Hence, the writer’s objective in use of this essay is to help the audience understand the tactics applied in reality by kidnappers enabling them to ponder and be well prepared to handle such situations if they do happen to them. It helps us understand the power of psychological manipulation making us better prepared to deal with a similar situation or one that would require understanding of the argumentative tactics. The use of a past real life occurrence aids in gravitating the seriousness of the issue enabling the reader to know the impact of an argumentative approach if correctly applied.

The Nine Billion Names of God

This short story by Arthur C. Clarke is based upon a Logos argument, as the monks, based on their logical understanding on religion, conclude that God’s purpose for the man on earth is to figure out all the possible names that one can call Him (Clarke, 1953). By use of this reasoning, they are able to convince the suppliers of the machines to send two operators along, though the suppliers are initially skeptical about the idea. This skepticism is diminished in the minds of the operators in the conclusion, as they depart, just as the last names are printed from the machine and entered into the holy books, the stars start unexplainably going out (Clarke, 1953). In this theory, a logical explanation is conveyed by use of reasoning, depending on available factual evidence. There is also effectiveness in the supporting evidence in strengthening of the argument, as in the going out of the stars in this article. The author of this story is a credible science fiction writer; hence, his reputation makes the readers believe in his works and are hence persuaded based on his portrayal of evidence.

The argumentation posed in this story however is not backed by sufficient evidence but only in the monks’ beliefs hence would be hard to convince the audience of the truthfulness in it. However, their claim is aided by the fact that they have vast knowledge in the subject matter; that is theology, and their purpose being to fulfill their obligation in terms of religion. One’s reputation can heavily influence their position in an argument as is seen in this text. For example, in the current age the people who are able to argue their opinions and convince others may include human welfare rights advocators, religious leaders and motivational speakers. This is due to their confidence in their arguments and the portrayal of a righteous intention in the argument. Personally, I find argument based on the Logos principle is insufficient as the person may be pursuing selfish interests but relies on the good reputation he has to win another’s trust.

The man to send rain clouds

In this short story, Ken and Leon rely on appealing to the priest’s emotionality by addressing an emotional situation that warrants empathy. On his action of providing the holy water for their grandfather’s grave, the priest is driven by the Pathos principle, as he is morally guided by the principles of ethics in priesthood not to deny a brother in his time of need. His emotions lead him to help, even though these rituals are not in line with Christian burial practice. Hence, even though their preference of practicing their ritual over a Christian burial is higher, he feels obliged to help (Silko, 1969).

The writer is Leslie Marmon Silko, whose works in Native-American literature are thorough as she has a comprehensive understanding of their lives, having grown up in the Laguna Pueblo Reservation (Author Biography, 2012). This makes her work comprehensive and, based on her reputation of excellence in the field; her work becomes a dependable reference for scholarly works. Hence, based on the ethos principle, it is possible to analyze educational material on argumentative material, citing this short story as an example.

In the current world, many occurrences arise, requiring one to use emotive reasoning, as opposed to logical reasoning, especially with the growth of commercialized advertising. Advertisers use tactics that appeal to the target audience by portraying that their new product will fill a void that the available goods in the market cannot satisfy. Hence, advertisers use this emotive argumentation in creation of a desire in consumers and convincing them that the available products in the market do not fulfill the void and desire in the consumer.




Declaration of sentiments and resolutions

The declaration of sentiments was drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton to fight for the advancement of the female rights in the nineteenth century (Stanton, 1848). As is evident in the laws set by the parliamentarians at the time, many rights of women were denied, and the men decided what was appropriate for the women hence indicating the presence of a cause for the uprising among women. This drove women to consulting among themselves and concluding on the necessity of a declaration stating what they wanted in relation to addressed issues and this indicates the effects of the cause identified.

Based on the argumentative theory of Logos, women agreed that the set rules were illogical and that they would advocate for such rules to be replaced with logical ones that address their interests. This led to the multiple conferences, bringing about elevation in a woman’s position in the society (Stanton, 1848). Due to the logical concepts behind this initiative, they were able to convince other women to take a stand, hence leading to the progressive realization of their requirements. In this situation, women raised a claim that resulted in the effects of their being the formation a coalition leading to the actions of a declaration being drafted.

Currently, women leadership is acceptable, though the percentage of male leaders still outweighs that of the females by far, hence women with a reputable position or character are the ones who lead the rest in fighting for any rights and issues that need to be addressed. Hence, in current situation, Ethos is more applicable in persuasion than in the past, where Pathos was the main argumentative principle.




My people

Deducting from Chief Seattle’s speech on the white European settlers, the disparity between the thinking of the natives and the settlers is considerably evident. His speech predicts the overtaking of the white settlers and the deterioration of the environment. This happened with the rampant prevalence of colonization in the 19th and 20th century and the global environment deterioration that has been experienced especially in recent years. The chief does not however disregard the possibility of an agreement being attained in future, claiming that eventually time may lead to formation of unity among them (Chief Seattle, 1854). This shows the moral position of the chief hence he is able to influence his audience by application of the Ethos argumentative position.

In his speech, it is deducible that Chief Seattle speaks from an emotive perspective. The chief understood his traditions, hence would not be diverted in his reasoning. When addressing his fellow citizens, he uses the Pathos argumentative concept by appealing to their emotions in relation to the traditions in understanding the importance of land preservation. In addition, being a man of known upright morality, he addresses the fellow citizens who view him as wise, being their leader and chief. Under this concept, the Ethos principle can explain the reason as to why he influences his crowd with what he says (Henning, 1998).

Especially in the current stage, where environmental degradation is rampant, the influence of moral leaders would be great if they applied the same principles as applied by Chief Seattle in addressing the public on the importance of natural preservation.

Works Cited

 “Author Biography.” Short Stories for Students. Vol. 8. Gale Cengage, 17 Jul, 2012

Chief Seattle, My people. 1854. Online. Retrieved: 18 July 2012.

Clarke, Arthur C. The Nine Billion Names of God. 1953. Online. Retrieved: 18 July 2012.

Henning, Martha L. Friendly Persuasion: Classical Rhetoric. August 1998. Print

Oates, Joyce Carol, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Epoch, Fall 1966. Print.

Silko, Leslie Marmon, “The Man to Send the Rain Clouds”. 1969. Online. Retrieved: 18 July 2012

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Declarations of Sentiments and Resolutions. 19-20 July 1848. Online. Retrieved: 18 July 2012.



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