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The Three Appeals of Argument: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

Updated on May 24, 2017
StephanieBCrosby profile image

Stephanie Bradberry is an herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. Her academic career includes teaching, tutoring, writing and editing.

Bust of Aristotle
Bust of Aristotle | Source

The three appeals go by several names. Often times they are simply called "the three appeals." But some people call them the three appeals of argument, persuasive appeals, modes of persuasion, and three persuasive audience appeals to name a few. But some names give a clue as to the origins of the appeals, such as "The Aristotelian Appeals." The three appeals were posited by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.


Ethos is known as the ethical appeal. This means the writer and/or speaker is appealing to one's ethics or beliefs and is based on one's character.


Logos is known as the logical appeal. The writer and/or speaker appeals to one's logic or reasoning. This is based on facts and other forms of evidence.


Pathos is known as the pathetic appeal. This is usually when students laugh. And I always tell them, "This does not mean you or the people in the audience are pathetic." Instead the writer and/or speaker is appealing to one's emotions. This appeal is known for trying to pull at one's heartstrings.

Which do you tend to use the most of?

See results

There is no correct blend of the three appeals when writing a paper or speech. However, being aware of balance based on the audience and intent, one can present a much more solid argument and be more successful at convincing others.

Want to learn more about the three appeals of argument/persuasion?

You can learn more about the three appeals by visiting Purdue OWL. They offer a wealth of information.

Stephanie Bradberry
Stephanie Bradberry

About the Author

Stephanie Bradberry is first and foremost an educator and life-long learner. Her present work is as an herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. She spent over a decade as a professor of English, Literature, Business and Education and high school English teacher. She is the founder and owner of Naturally Fit & Well, LLC and former owner of Crosby Educational Consulting, LLC. Stephanie loves being a freelance writer and editor on the side.


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    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello manatita44,

      Thank you so much for these lovely words and the awesome advice. I will take it to heart!!!

    • manatita44 profile image


      3 years ago from london

      Short and sweet, Stephanie. Keep it that way. Reach out to the heart as best you can. Nice ideas from a great Man. Much peace.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi pstraubie48. I also find that I am called to use logos predominantly. However, my instinct is to use pathos. It would be quite interesting if we all just sort of wrote off the cuff, but in a responsible way. Thanks for reading and thanks for the angels!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Interesting. I find as my years increase I tend to use logos but pathos slips in from time to time---it depends on what purpose I am writing for I think.

      Thanks for sharing this

      Sending Angels to you :) ps

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      WhydThatHappen, thanks!

      You hit the nail on the head. Often when people argue, they figure using the same arguments and perspective they started with is somehow magically and suddenly going to be more convincing the third or fourth time around. Why preach to the choir?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Short and to the point- i think the major flaw that happens when people try to convince others of a concept is that instead of applying the three appeals through the audience's perspective, the presenter speaks from their own- they are already convinced, why are they talking like they need to be convinced all over again? Voting up and sharing

    • Laurinzo Scott profile image

      Live To Write 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      Yes it is Stephanie, and what I find amazing is how those different styles of thinking affect culure, society, and events as a whole. You are very welcome as this hub is great food for thought.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello Laurinzo Scott. I agree that people tend to go through shifts in perspective as to what is most effective or not depending on age and experience. But in terms of StarTrek I guess you went from Captain Kirk to Spock. That's a pretty radical change. Thanks for reading, voting, and commenting.

    • Laurinzo Scott profile image

      Live To Write 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      Great hub... and yes I like to think that as I grow older I tend toward logos. In my reckless youth it was always emotions that ruled my actions, and that was often pure disaster. That is why on the original Startrek Mr. Spock is my favorite. I vote for logic today, and voted this hub Up!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi Emmanuel Kariuki. Thanks for the compliment. Being terse is not always easy for me. But hopefully practice will make perfect :)

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello tillsontitan. Thanks for reading and commenting. I even surprised with how to the point I was because I have the gift of gab and usually try to fit in everything.

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You've hit the nail directly on the head with these three short definitions. Makes reading quick and short, and I'd like to emulate that - voted up.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Short but sweet and to the point. Good information for any writer to use. Voted up and interesting.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello peoplepower73. I figured there was no sense in me trying to cover all the information about the three appeals since most people who would search just want the facts. So I'm glad you found the supplemental links useful.

      I am not familiar with Toastmasters: what's it about?

      Thanks for reading!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      That's awesome. There is a lot more to say about the three appeals. But I will leave that for another day. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 

      6 years ago from Placentia California

      StephanieBCrosby: The four supplement links contain great reference material for writers and speakers. I'm a member of Toastmasters and I'm going to bookmark these sites. Thanks for sharing. Voting up, Useful and Shariing.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      6 years ago from India

      I came to know about something new here

      Thanks for the share


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