Logos, ethos, and pathos

In this section of the study guide, we will discuss the modes of persuasion used by Barack Obama in his speech on reclaiming the American Dream.

The speech is dominated by logos and ethos, but there are also a few examples of pathos to be found. Logos is the appeal to re…

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Table of contents

Logos

Logos, the appeal to reason, is the main mode of persuasion used by Obama in his speech. For instance, Obama uses logical arguments in the following example, when Obama states that Americans need a reliable President:

And that's why I don't think you should settle for a President who's only there for you when it's easy or convenient or popular - I think you deserve a President who you can trust will fight for yo…

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Ethos

Ethos, the appeal to authority and shared values, is mainly used when Obama talks about the changes he will make once he is President.

Ethos is used when Obama wants to come across as a determined candidate who is not afraid to expose his plans and who is confident that he will succeed. He often uses the phrase “I’ll” to show his plans and present his promises. For example, the following quotation reveals that he is determined to sign a health-care bill during his presidency:

That's how I'll pass a uni…

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Pathos

Pathos is used a few times in Obama’s speech. In the following example, Obama stirs a feeling of hope when he talks about what he believes America can achieve:

There has been a lot of talk in this campaign about the politics of hope. But the politics of hope doesn't mean hoping that things come easy. It's a politics of believing in things unseen; …

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