Aristotle - Rhetorical Appeals

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric provides the earliest theoretical foundation for Western rhetorical studies, and his insights remain valid to this day. The rhetorical triangle depicts three elements of every rhetorical situation: the subject of discourse, the rhetor or speaker, and the audience. Corresponding to these three elements, Aristotle named three appeals that the rhetor could make in the service of persuasion. These are listed below, in PAEI order.

A – Logos appeals, based on the logic of one’s own argument, flaws in the argument of an opponent, definitions and deductive inferences.

E - Ethos appeals, which qualified the speaker as being credible or worth listening to, based on the personal qualities, expertise or social position of the rhetor.

I – Pathos appeals, based on the feelings, fears, biases and desires of the audience members.

All three of these appeals make contact with the context of the discourse, which can be thought to include the overall goal or speech act structure of the communication. Communication is often undertaken in order to achieve some extra-discursive goal. P-style considerations take root in this context, and appear most visibly within discourse as the “call to action” that concludes each effective rhetorical act.

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