What Is Rhetoric?

04.01 Defining and Evaluating an Argument Quiz

Question 1(Multiple Choice Worth 20 points)

(04.01 MC)

Students who fall behind in their school work will never be able to get jobs and will end up living with their parents forever.

The flawed logic in this statement is an example of hasty generalization slippery slope post hoc false dichotomy

Question 2 (Matching Worth 15 points)

(04.01 MC)

Match the logical fallacy to the correct definition.

Match Term Definition
Authority A) Based on insufficient evidence
Slippery Slope B) Uses someone who is not an expert on the issue
Hasty Generalization C) Claims that one action leads to a series of undesirable events

Question 3(Multiple Choice Worth 10 points)
(04.01 LC)

An argument is an interesting appeal to ethics a philosophical appeal to science an anecdotal appeal to emotion
a well-supported appeal to logic

Question 4(Multiple Choice Worth 10 points)

(04.01 LC)

An effective argument is established by figuring out how one side of an issue is better than the other learning about popular opinions on each side of the issue taking the time to look at both sides of an issue discrediting one side of the issue by using logical fallacies

Question 5(Multiple Choice Worth 10 points)
(04.01 LC)

Ethos uses responsible research practices and fair use of appeals to establish _________________.

Question 6(Multiple Choice Worth 10 points)
(04.01 LC)

An argument gives you the opportunity to

show the weakness in someone’s character
encourage someone to take action
promote someone’s personal agenda
prove someone’s incorrect statements
Question 7 (Essay Worth 25 points)

(04.01 HC)

In his closing argument during the Hinckley assassination trial, defense attorney Vincent Fuller said to the jury:

“First is the spring of 1976 when John Hinckley impulsively [goes] out, abruptly sells his automobile and goes to California to become a rock star or a song writer. Unrealistic, absolutely unrealistic. He had not had one moment of training in music. And he believed he would come on the front of Hollywood and be an instant success. Needless to say, he was a total failure and it resulted in his depression, despair, and disappointment. He made another aborted effort, I believe in 1978, where the doctors testified he went to Nashville again with great expectations of being a rock star. Once again his hopes were dashed, because, obviously, these were unrealistic goals. Whether at that point in time they are psychotic, obviously we are not qualified to address that. You should consider that, though, in your deliberations.”

Evaluate Fuller’s argument in terms of logos, pathos, and ethos. Use evidence from the statement to support your answer. Your response should be a minimum of five sentences.


Imagine opening the refrigerator case at the convenience store, pulling out a bottle of your favorite soda, and seeing this on the label:

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Drinking soda may cause obesity, dental cavities, diabetes, dependence on caffeine, and decreased bone mass
Such labels have previously only been found on tobacco and alcohol products, but with obesity being labeled a rising societal health crisis, should government-mandated labels like this be next?

The government’s involvement with citizens’ personal issues, like health, is a topic of heated debate. While the people with the loudest voices and most extreme positions may seem to dominate the discussion, it is the people who look at both sides of the issue rationally that make the most valuable contributions.

In the next several lessons, you will see debate in action. You will learn how to develop an argument and assert your position on an issue that is important to you.


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

define argument
identify the elements of an argument
evaluate a position in terms of argument
For or Against?
It is often said that there are two sides to every issue. Because of this, you will most likely find someone who disagrees with you on a topic you think is important.

Rather than gearing up for a shouting match when you encounter opposition, think about engaging in a civilized argument instead.

A formal argument is a statement of the reasons you are in favor of or are against an issue. An argument gives you the opportunity to:

ask someone to accept your position
change someone’s point of view
encourage someone to take action
What Is Rhetoric?
“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”
William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene I
Don’t answer those, they are rhetorical questions—questions designed not to be answered, but to make you think. Rhetoric is at the heart of those questions.

The term rhetoric refers to any type of communication that is designed to change another person’s perspective—to get them to think about and see things a different way. By its definition, argument is a form of rhetoric.

There are three rhetorical appeals that can be used to influence the way people think about a particular topic:


Pathos appeals to emotions. Stories, imagery, and connotative words appeal to our emotions. These techniques arouse emotions such as anger, fear, joy, sadness, or happiness to cause someone to feel and then act.

A strong argument can be made through logos alone. A more compelling argument attempts to incorporate all three of these strategies to help the intended audience identify with a certain perspective.

Logos, Pathos, and Ethos

The core of an argument is logos:

The core of an argument is logos such as facts, logic, reason and evidence
But to impact the intended audience, arguments can also persuade by appealing to pathos and ethos:

Arguments also persuade by appealing to Pathos and ethos like emotions, ethics, and credibility
Look at these examples to see the difference between the three appeals.

LogosPathosEthosLogos, Pathos, and Ethos

You need to take the test prep course to pass the difficult exam. The course provides a personalized review program, practice materials, and a trained instructor.
This statement appeals to logic: “you need to take the test prep course to pass the exam.” It includes factual examples that demonstrate why a student should take the test prep course.
A Successful Argument

Appeals to ethos and pathos help, but grounding your position with a logical appeal is critical to the success of your argument. You can use logic to accomplish any of the following:

Establish that there is a problem that must be solved.
Identify a particular cause for the problem.
Hold someone or something responsible for the problem.
Illuminate other problems that have resulted or may result if the problem is ignored.
Suggest a course of action that will improve or correct the problem.
Logical Pitfalls
Sometimes the facts provided in an argument might be wrong or misleading. Use of facts in this way creates a logical fallacy. Logical fallacies are fake or deceptive arguments that do not actually prove anything. They may seem solid at first glance and can be very persuasive, even after they are shown to be false.

There are more than 40 logical fallacies and entire college courses dedicated to the nuances of logic and argumentation. Here are a few of the most common fallacies you should be careful to avoid in your arguments and to look out for in the arguments of others:

Hasty Generalization
Post Hoc
Slippery Slope
False Dichotomy

Check it out
Look at this more comprehensive list of logical fallacies. How many do you recognize?

Fact or Fallacy?
Listed below are brief excerpts of arguments.

Logical or Logical Fallacy—Text Version
Slide 1
I am opposed to the governor’s “Happy Families” program. One of my neighbors participated in the program and had to allow state workers into her home regularly to help her become a better parent. This program is just another way for the state to control families.

Flawed logic

Slide 2
Dr. Ida Marquez, child development researcher at Harvard University, has studied the outcomes of 500 families that participated in the state’s “Happy Families” program; she has found that 85 percent of families experienced improved literacy skills and health habits for up to five years after successful program completion.

Flawed logic


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What Is Rhetoric


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