Logos, ethos, and pathos

Here, we will focus on the main modes of persuasion used by Barack Obama in his remarks on Trayvon Martin. The most important modes of persuasion are logos, ethos and pathos. Logos is an …

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Table of contents

Logos

Obama makes an appeal to logos when he uses clear arguments and statements to try to convince his audience of the validity of his proposals:

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes curren…

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Ethos

Ethos is employed by Obama when he relies on his authority as President of the United States, but also when he talks about his African-American identity.

First, he uses ethos when he identifies with Trayvon Martin: “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me years ago.” 

He also uses ethos when he identifies himself as African American. The following example suggests that Obama knows what African-American men and boys are going thro…

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Pathos

Pathos is employed when Obama appeals to the emotions of the audience. First, he appeals to the feeling of empathy when he conveys his thoughts and prayers for the family of the victim:

First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. 

Then, he appeals to the feeling of trust in the American legal system. Although he knows that some people may have mixed feelings, Obama restates that the trial has been conducted according to American laws:

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution an…

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