CHAPTER I: An introduction



History of rhetoric


Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Canons of rhetoric



Key Terms

Argumentation: the communicative process of advancing, supporting, criticizing, and modifying claims so that appropriate decision makers may grant or deny adherence.

Arrangement: dictates how a speech or writing should be organized.

Canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery

Corax: The man who has the first recorded written rhetoric.

Debate: a method of argumentation debate is the process of inquiry and advocacy and the seeking of a reasoned judgment on a proposition.

Delivery: includes verbal utterances and emotional impact but also body language, gestures and tonal fluctuations.

Dialectic: allows humans to separate the truth from the false through questioning.

Is the pragmatic procedure of argumentation that allows humans to separate the truth from the false through questioning.

Empiricism claims humans gain knowledge by experience.

Epistemology: how we come to know; the study of the nature of knowledge

Ethos: the speaker’s credibility.

False Rhetoric: is used by individuals pursuing their own interests rather than arriving at a truth.

Logos refers to organization and logic.

Memory: The degree to which an orator remembers her speech and the methods a speaker uses to ensure the audience retains the speeches primary teachings and persuasions.

Pathos: arguments which are primarily based on appeals to emotions.

Rationalism asserts that humans obtain knowledge through reasoning

Relativism: knowledge relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing.

Rhetoric: is concerned with argumentation as a process. Also widely known as the “art of persuasion.

Sophists: a group of educators traveled the land city by city offering educational courses to citizens for a price.

Style: the artful expression of ideas.

Tone: cues of rhetor’s attitude and emotions; the quality of voice.


















Overview PART OF WEEK 1


If you pay any attention at all to election year debates then you have heard the number one question—usually asked by political pundits and not by the average person—“Who won the debate?” The question emphasizes that in a debate there is a measurement of winning and losing.

During the second presidential debate between then president Ronald Reagan and opponent Walter Mondale, Mondale was said to have won the debate because Reagan just seemed tired and old. Reagan stumbled several times, lost his place, and generally gave the illusion of not being on top of his game. During the next debate, Reagan came back with his usual candor and wit. When asked by one of the panelists if he thought he was too old to serve another term, he responded that “

He would not make age an issue in this campaign. I will not consider my opponent’s youth and lack of political experience as a determining factor in this election.” The audience roared with laughter and it was clear that Reagan was back in command. An odd way of determining the question “Who won the debate?” Such is the nature of debate and indirectly of argumentation.

Rhetoric most widely known as the art of persuasion and is concerned with argumentation as a process. “Argumentation” according to Richard Rieke and Malcolm Sillars, “is the communicative process of advancing, supporting, criticizing, and modifying claims so that appropriate decision makers may grant or deny adherence” [1](1, italics in original). One key point is the notion of communication. An argumentation class teaches, unlike a strict logic class, the human attempt to analyze arguments AND to persuade an audience. Debate is one method of argumentation. While scientists may conduct formal argumentation through a series of journal articles, and people may do something similar through letters to a newspaper or a blog; debate is a specific method used for oral argumentation in a formal setting. The author’s approach debate and argumentation from a forensics or competitive activity, while presenting the logical and rhetorical nature. On one hand, introductory debate is, by nature, designed to have a winner and a loser. Either the affirmative (the person or side in favor of the proposition) or the negative (the person or side against the proposition) will win or lose. However, argumentation can also be an important part of rhetoric or persuasion. Rhetoric and persuasion do not always have an obvious “winner” and “loser.” During the 1858, Senate debate between Lincoln and his opponent Senator Stephan Douglas, Lincoln lost the election; therefore, it would be assumed he lost the debates. Lincoln, and even Douglas, admitted that Lincoln’s argumentative tactics during the debate set him up to win the presidential election of 1860. As demonstrated by the Lincoln Douglas debates, there are variations to the basic structure of a debate. One objective of this book is to present a foundational understanding of rhetoric and argumentation.

The second objective of this book is to introduce basic critical thinking skills through teaching formal and informal logic. Formal logic is usually referred to as deductive reasoning and informal logic as inductive reasoning. Logic will be discussed and presented primarily from the teachings of Aristotle, with a brief section from Joseph Toulmin and his model for logic in general.

Finally, we present a standard approach to policy debate. Included in this format are the responsibilities of the speakers, and general rules of current academic policy debate. You may have participated in other types of debates in your classes, but nothing can compare to policy debate for its thoroughness of the standard academic experience. The following chapters will prepare you to successfully debate an opponent and persuade an audience to your position through the use of logical arguments.


            There are three important terms that you must understand in order to debate and thus argue effectively with any audience: rhetoric, dialectic, and logic. “Rhetoric is concerned with argumentation as a process. It is the art of argumentation and discourse. When we write or speak to convince others of our perspective, we are "rhetors." When we analyze or critique the way rhetoric functions we are "rhetoricians." Dialectic with the pragmatic procedures of argumentation, and logic with its products.” (Habermas, 26). [2] So, what then is argumentation? Most texts offer an initial chapter on the nature and even character of argumentation which includes its history, formats, and general purposes. This is usually done from a single perspective, such as:  philosophical, debate, or legalistic approach—which is then applied throughout the text.

Most introductory texts approach argumentation from a standard debate approach because it has been found to be the most practical method to introduce undergraduate students to the very basic concept of argumentation. Fewer texts offer multiple chapters on logic. This may be because colleges often offer complete courses in logic in a separate department. Fewer texts offer much discussion of rhetoric, beyond an introductory and cursory few pages within the opening chapters. Communication departments may offer complete courses in public speaking or persuasion. Universities often have areas of concentration or even majors for those interested in rhetorical studies.

            Argumentation is widely studied but often from a narrow focus. Jurgen Habermas provides a very broad and philosophical view of argumentation from a primarily communicative approach. Habermas’ take on communication is from a solid belief that humans are practical and should therefore communicate in a, first and foremost, practical way. Habermas writes: “Practical questions even in the case of moral ones can in principle be settled by way of argumentation.” Some who are reading closely may be imagining the last argument you had about a truly important moral or ethical dilemma. The conversation/debate probably did not go too well, especially if one of the parties was a parent or family member. Can argumentation truly be applied to solving difficult issues? Most of us are aware of debate and argumentation from our own lives, what we watch, observe, read, etc. Usually this involves two people with adversarial or opposing sides trying to present their views on a specific subject. We offer slightly more sophisticated definitions.

            Edward Corbett and Rosa Eberly composed a simplistic, if not elegant brief study of reasoning comprised of 5 stases or areas of research, thought, and development. The first is conjecture, or whether there is even any shared reality. The key questions they provide are:

“What happened?” and

“Does a particular shared reality exist?”

We tend to want to first define key terms, but this desire to jump into the conflict and erect imaginary boundaries comes at the cost of acknowledging whether we can even agree if a conflict exists and whether we are arguing the same issue.

For example, you and your brother are fighting over the remote:

            “Give me the remote!” you shout

            “Which one? This one only works the TV. But the big one turns on the DVD                                          player.” Your brother calmly and rationally counters. (O.K., not really but being calm and rational is supposed to be what happens when you are a skilled debater. Check back in at the end of the semester to see if that is true.)

            “I want the one to change the channels.”

            “Oh, then you need the old one.”

You and your brother were actually debating several issues at once. The definitional phase came out as you both clarified the purpose.  It would have been much easier or direct if you had simply asked for the remote to turn up the volume, but regular human argument does not often begin at the most logical place. One of the most in-depth studies on conversational argumentation I have read suggests there are as many as 24 rules to human argumentation and these rules do not even begin to postulate the number of potential human argument moves. Just like a game of chess, human argument may be easy to learn, but it takes a lifetime to master.



A History of Rhetoric PART OF WEEK 1


In order to understand argumentation and debate, we must first examine rhetoric. Rhetoric has enjoyed many definitions over the centuries, but there are a couple key traits consistently found in those definitions; first, it concerns not only what is being said but also how it is being said; second, it is persuasive in nature. Historically, philosophers, rhetoricians, and educators alike have argued the relevance of rhetoric and its relationship with logic. Many argue that rhetoric is more concerned with the stylistic devices, the how of the communication. Rhetoric does attend to style and delivery, but it also considers other important elements. Rhetoric also deals with meaning and symbols, persuasion and argumentation, which means it is also about truth, logic and reasoning. Confused? This is normal, we assure you.

 Although we could offer you a simple quick definition of rhetoric and move on, doing so would only do you a disservice. Understanding what rhetoric is and how it is related to the other primary concepts discussed is essential in your becoming skilled at argumentation and debate.

            You may have heard people say “that was just rhetoric.” What was meant by this comment? Perhaps an accusation that what the person just said was false. This kind of comment is commonly used in describing dirty politicians, someone trying to conceal the truth or someone perceived as using empty words. Often referred to as a false rhetoric or bad rhetoric, Kenneth Burke argues "The most characteristic concern of rhetoric [is] the manipulation of men's beliefs for political ends.... the basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents." Can rhetoric be used for bad? Absolutely, we are not attempting to argue that rhetoric is infallible. However, just as rhetoric is capable of being used for bad, it can be used for good.

Historically, rhetoric has been used to accomplish the most memorable and influential acts of our time. Consider for a moment some of the most influential speeches of all times. Perhaps Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” came to your mind. In fact, nine times out of ten when American’s are asked to report the most memorable or famous speech, they refer to that speech specifically. Why is this? Is it that the writing of the actual speech was done impeccably? Was it the way he delivered the words? Maybe it was the tones, rhythms, and persuasive passion? Was it the literary devices or was it the reasoning and credibility he had while speaking? The answer is it was a successful and memorable speech that moved the listeners to action because it was all of these things. All of these components together create rhetoric.

John Locke and others have suggested that rhetoric is a powerful instrument of error and deceit. Can you recall the way you felt when you heard the I Have a Dream speech? Think of all the wrongs made right by that speech, all the lives saved, rights gained, and good inspired; doesn’t Locke’s definition seem pessimistic at best? George Campbell’s definition of rhetoric would be a much better account of Martin Luther King’s rhetoric. Campbell wrote, "[Rhetoric] is that art or talent by which discourse is adapted to its end. The four ends of discourse are to enlighten the understanding, please the imagination, move the passion, and influence the will." Gerard A. Hauser's definition of rhetoric is much more closely aligned to the way we use rhetoric in argumentation debate class, he states rhetoric is "an instrumental use of language. One person engages another person in an exchange of symbols to accomplish some goal. It is not communication for communication's sake. Rhetoric is communication that attempts to coordinate social action. For this reason, rhetorical communication is explicitly pragmatic. Its goal is to influence human choices on specific matters that require immediate attention.”

At this point you should see the connections between these concepts. But let’s review a few key concepts just to be clear. Persuasion is the communication that is intended to influence acts, beliefs, values, and attitudes of others. Persuasion is used in argumentation. Argumentation can be understood as the communicative process of advancing, supporting, criticizing, and modifying claims so that appropriate decision makers may grant or deny adherence reason people whose purpose is the justification of acts, beliefs, and values (persuasion). Debate is the process of inquiry and advocacy and the seeking of a reasoned judgment on a proposition. Argumentation and persuasion are used in debate. A discourse can be any speech, written or spoken and any exchange of symbols in any contexts, this would include newspaper, media, films, the Internet, and of course debate and argumentation. Rhetoric is the glue that binds discourse, argumentation, debate, and persuasion together. Rhetoric can be understood as the art of persuasion if you have a preference for the ancient definition. Rhetoric can also be understood as the study of effective communication, but please use Hauser’s definition for this course.

Rhetoric and dialectic are all about how humans attempt to find truth in any given situation. Debate is the method we use in this class to come to some agreed truth. Argumentation is the mechanism or apparatus we utilize while debating to get us to that truth. By the end of this textbook, you will see how the concepts are linked more clearly.

Given that debate is an effort in winning an argument and coming to the best truth, the rhetorical contributions discussed herein are centered on the idea of truth. When we enter into an argument with someone, we usually try to find the truth, convince others that we know the truth, and persuade them accordingly through dialectic and rhetoric. As such, rhetoric has always had truth at its core. (Current uses of rhetoric may mislead you to think it is only about style such as when commentators suggest a politician is “Nothing but empty rhetoric.”) However, truth is not as simple a concept as it may appear. In order to understand what we mean when discussing truth, it is important you understand a few key conditions of the concept. First, you must be familiar with epistemology, which is the nature of knowledge or how we come to real knowledge. Rhetoricians and philosophers approach epistemology from two standard standpoints: rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism asserts that humans obtain knowledge through reasoning. Rationalists believe there are certain things that are just naturally true or “universally accepted truths," which is sometimes called a priori truth. A priori is Latin for “first things” or something which must be done first. You may have heard of “self-evident truth.” These truths are written as statements we don’t have to think about because they are so obviously "true." Examples of commonly accepted self-evident truths are claims such as: “we exist,” or “I can’t be in two places at once." But there are gray areas or areas of disagreement among theorists and philosophers. Consider the fact that if I add 2 beads to your 2 beads and we do the math- we have four beads. This would be considered a self-evident truth by rationalists. Therefore, in order to count or have that structure of understanding at all, we must agree to the rules humans made regarding math to be true. Empiricists however, would argue with relativists by saying that this kind of “truth” is tautological, which means it is true not because it is some magical ultimate truth, but rather because we have all decided that it is an accepted truth. We created the definitions of four which is two plus two or 3 plus one, etc, and it works for us and serves us well to accept those rules we created; but it does not mean it is a definite ultimate truth. You can image the arguments that can be started from a claim that “God exists” or “God does not exist.”

Empiricism is the act or method in which humans gain knowledge by experience.

The most basic form of empirical truth is based on direct observation or taking a good examination. It means that if I see something or assert something based on an observation that I made, then you should be able to make the same observations as well and arrive at the same conclusions. Empirical argument is simply argument based on observation, data, statistics, numbers, etc.  In order to empirically prove aliens exist, I would have to produce an actual alien or at least observable proof of an alien.

Rationalism is the act or method in which humans gain knowledge by reasoning. If I were arguing from a rationalist position about aliens existing, I would use arguments based on inductive or deductive reasoning. I might argue about the likelihood of finding an environment which could sustain life. From that probability (let’s say 1 in 1billion) I could argue that the chances are good, considering the number of planets, that alien life could exist. This is a form of inductive reasoning.

Empiricism and rationalism are often used together. Empirical arguments often use inductive logic or logic which argues from a specific, observable claim, to a general conclusion. For example, you might observe one pencil run out of lead, and then observe this same thing happening again and again with other pencils. So far you are arguing empirically, or from direct observation. After several observations you may assume that all pencils run out of lead if they are not sharpened. This is rationalism because you have made a broad theory through logic and reasoning. You have used empirical observations of several pencils and then made a rationalist conclusion. You have not tested every pencil on earth so you can’t be 100% certain, but you can reasonably assume that it is true. In the end, most of us agree that both rationalism and empiricism are useful ways of knowing. It is essential in rhetoric, argumentation, and debate, that you understand conceptions of truth and be able to argue from both the rationalist and empiricist perspectives. Chapter two presents these in more detail.

At this point, we will examine the historical context of rhetoric’s birth and progress. It is important to note that this section is a brief examination of important contributions to rhetorical theory and does not reflect the only significant contributions, but, the contributions discussed in the following pages should be considered those most relevant to this course and those that are foundational to the understanding of debate and argumentation not a fully encompassing study of the rhetoric.


The Beginning and Sophists  SKIP FOR WEEK 1

The first recorded written rhetoric in our Western world was created by a man named Corax in 465 B.C. at the Greek colony of Syracuse, Sicily. During this time the government had undergone a change and land disputes were rampant. Corax came to realize that the person whom was able to dispute his side best would ultimately be the “winner” or owner of the land. Therefore, it seemed that power lie in the man who could plead the more plausible, logical, and overall effective case. Given this realization, Corax created a system of argumentation. He created a system of argumentation that would likely lead people to win their cases and thus their land. Corax’s theory on argumentation and rhetoric soon spread to Athens and many other cities. In Athens, citizens spoke for themselves; there was not the legal form of refutation we are familiar with today in the form of legal representation. This meant each citizens probability of winning their case relied greatly on the quality of their speech and delivery of their arguments. The wealthier families were able to pay for speechwriters to help them construct arguments, but until Corax, the ability for the average citizen to have access to quality argumentation was all but impossible.

In 490 B.C.E., a group of educators traveled the land city by city offering educational courses to citizens for a price. These roaming educators were called sophists. The goal of the Sophists was to make their students into good citizens. In their teachings, they emphasized forms of persuasive expression, such as the art of rhetoric, which provided pupils with skills useful for achieving success in life, particularly public life. These first teachers of rhetoric did not believe in an absolute truth, only probable truth. Sophists were relativists. Relativism means knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing. They believed humans are incapable of achieving absolute truth because the nature of the mind is limited. They also believed that understanding the power of language is crucial to the exploration of knowledge and is an essential tool humans must learn to harness, control, and use. Sophists humanized philosophy by putting man at the center of the argument. Fundamentally, Sophists did not claim they had an ultimate truth or that they could teach someone to come to know the ultimate truth. Instead, they claimed that rhetoric helps us see the reality the speaker tries to create through language. 

Unlike other educators at the time, sophists centered their teachings purely on usable knowledge, that is, knowledge that citizens could use in the social and political realms of their everyday lives. Primarily, the educators sought to educate all those who could pay for their services. This concept angered many aristocracies. At the time, access to education was a privilege afforded to those with birthright. Sophists did not make education available to all citizens, but they did educate a great many people whom without their teachings would never have had access to such an education. Given that political careers were the most popular at the time; Sophists spent much if not most of their time teaching rhetoric. Numerous politicians, from distant cities, would come to take lecture from the famous sophists in an attempt to increase their ability to convince the masses of their opinions regarding politics. Unlike Plato, whom will be discussed later, Sophists were not concerned with arriving at the ultimate “truth,” rather they were interested in teaching people how to win any given argument. They created a series of arguments that they claimed would always win. Sophists even asserted that they need not know an area well in order to defend or refute it; you must merely have the right rhetoric. Some of their techniques included manipulations, entrapping their opponents, large fiery language to intimidate, and even attempts to confuse. Clearly, Sophists did not always teach rhetoric from the most moral standpoint, which would ultimately lead to their demise.

Plato publicly criticized the Sophists for not believing in and teaching absolute truth.

The Sophists taught their students to examine multiple sides of a given issue and deal in probabilities based on knowledge. This teaching was very different from Plato’s belief in absolute truth. Plato criticized the fact that Sophists did not believe in a nominal world where transcendent forms of knowledge and truth exist, but rather focused more sharply on existential realities. The divergence in both side’s view of rhetoric can be summarized as a contention between existentialism and transcendence. Sophists believed rhetoric was good for civic virtue- the training of men to be good citizens. They also felt strongly that humans control their own destiny. Major criticisms of the Sophists were that they were naive relativists- that they believed that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing. They taught in using language- or rhetoric to create illusions to convince an audience versus using rhetoric to uncover illusions.

Plato and others contended that Sophists were not educators, but money hungry men teaching others how to manipulate and deceive. It is important to note however, that although they were not centered on what is right or wrong, they did teach people the basic tools of argumentation, which became the groundwork for other philosophers and rhetoricians like Aristotle and they made significant contributions to our understanding of the power of delivery.

50 A.D. through 400 A.D became known as the Second Sophistic, a time that marked the transition from the classical to the British period of rhetorical history. The Second Sophistic was a period that concentrated on the delivery and style of speech and less on the actual subject matter (style and delivery will be discussed in greater detail later). It was a time where rhetoric became an “art of giving effectiveness to the speaker.” It was a time that marked the final years of the Roman Empire, which was known for great political unrest. Oratorical and rhetorical theory had to adapt to the political and social style and delivery that this new time was asking for. 




One could not discuss important contributions in rhetorical theory regarding truth without mentioning two key players: Plato and Aristotle. Contrary to the Sophists, Plato was primarily concerned with arriving at a given truth of a situation or issue. You may have heard instructors or others discuss “ultimate truths.” This concept comes from Plato’s obsession with discovering the ultimate truth. Sophists were not concerned with a right or wrong answer, but rather that people actually accept the speaker’s position. Plato, on the other hand, sought to find the absolute truth in a given situation and believed that the ethical use of rhetoric, could aid in the discovery of truth. Plato argued that people like the sophists taught and used “false rhetoric” or the pursuit of personal interests over the interest in finding ultimate truth. In today’s world you could compare false rhetoric to car sales. A person needs a car, and a salesperson sells him one which seems to help the person. In Plato’s sense of rhetoric, both the customer and salesperson should try to arrive at the ultimate truth regarding a car, (as if there was a universal and perfect truth for a car). Naturally, the person buying the car does not want to spend any more than necessary—even if spending less might hurt the salesperson. Don't forget the salesperson also has personal motives to sell the vehicle; money. The more expensive vehicle sold, the more money he or she makes. Therefore, both people are trying to persuade the other to accept a specific price for the car—even if the offer may hurt the customer or the salesperson. Plato would call this false rhetoric because it would not lead to the ultimate truth. Plato contended that rhetoric like this was false and wrong.

Plato’s concern with “ultimate” or “transcendent” truth, led him to believe that before humans are born their souls exist in a place that has access to absolute truths. When humans are born, they forget the truths their souls had once absorbed. Plato believed that in order for humans to arrive at truth a series of questions or rather the correct question must be ask. Asking the right question(s) we will be able to show that our memory was there (the truths were already present) we just required a means by which to recall them. Today you can see this method still used. Examples are our courts of law, or even when a family member comes home far too late one night and you bombard him/her with questions to arrive at the truth of where she/he was.

Initially, Plato claimed that rhetoric was not a means of arriving at truth. Rather, he believed rhetoric was audience centered and concerned with persuasion and thus not always a virtuous endeavor. Eventually, Plato did come to appreciate rhetoric and acknowledge that rhetoric has the power to produce knowledge, but prefaced that rhetoric can only provide ways of conveying truth. In order to arrive at ultimate truth, we must engage in dialectic. Dialectic would allow humans to separate the truth from the false through questioning. His dialogues, Gorgias and Phaedrus discussed false and true rhetoric in depth. Fundamentally, Plato disagreed with the Sophistic notion that an art of persuasion (rhetoric) can exist apart from dialectic, claiming that Sophists appeal to only the probable rather that to that which is true and therefore they are not bettering the audience but flattering them.

According to Plato, rhetoric is “A kind of influencing of the mind by means of persuasion.” Plato considered rhetoric to be a psychological form, believing that one could only be truly healthy if she/he understands how the mind responds to various persuasions. Plato spent much time on the thought of persuasion by means of the mind, but his student, Aristotle would spend even more time deciphering the links between rhetoric, persuasion, dialectic, and the mind.




Aristotle PART OF WEEK 1

Aristotle synthesized two polarizations set forth by Sophistic and Platonic worldviews, and it was the intersection of these two paradigms that inspired the work of one of the most influential thinkers in the history of philosophy. Aristotle has long been considered the most distinguished student of Plato and the highest contributor to rhetorical theory and analysis. The sophistic notion that rhetoric was an art helped inspire Aristotle’s famous notion of audience adaptation. Aristotle was more enthusiastic about rhetoric than Plato and developed two definitions. The first was “Rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic.” The second definition offered by Aristotle is, “So let rhetoric be defined as the faculty of discovering in the particular case what are the available means of persuasion.” Many theorists today still struggle with interpreting Aristotle’s words, especially in this last definition. However, from what we understand and can interpret, Aristotle deems persuasion as an essential part of the rhetorical process and views rhetoric as a moral and practical art. 

He specialized in observing all things living and nonliving and for formulating data of his observations in a form, which others could then study and practice. His specialties were not limited to merely the sciences, but also law, drama, and ethics. While Plato believed in transcendent truth, Aristotle was more concerned with empirical truth. Aristotle believed logic and scientific demonstration allow humans to arrive at truth, asserting rhetoric should be a more pragmatic endeavor than that articulated by Plato. In contrast to his teacher Plato, Aristotle believed rhetoric was the counterpart of dialectic. In this belief, Aristotle admits dialectical methods are necessary to find truth in theoretical discussion, but rhetorical methods should be used to find truth in practical experiences (legal conditions such as in a court of law). Aristotle articulated four distinct reasons for studying, practicing, and understanding rhetoric: (as qutd. in. Goldmen, Berquist, Goodmen; 2000, p. 30).

1. To uphold truth and justice and play down their opposites

2. To teach in a way suitable to a popular audience

3. To analyze both sides of a question

4. To enable one to defend himself

One of the elements to persuasion according to Aristotle, are proofs, which he terms ethos, pathos, and logos. Aristotle claimed that you could support and defend your ideas with these proofs. Ethos is described as those proofs that depend on the speakers’ ability to be believable. Pathos are designed to affect a listeners feelings. And logos proofs “demonstrate that a thing is so.” This three part analyses of proof is still used today and will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. At the very center of Aristotle’s theory of proof is the enthymeme. The enthymeme has three basic parts: a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. The major premise is a categorical statement, usually written in the form of "All x is y." or "No x is y." The minor premise connects the major premise to the conclusion because it shares a similar term. These concepts will be elaborated and exemplified in chapter two of this book.

            Aristotle classified different forms of discourse into three areas. First, he had forensic discourse. This discourse dealt with the past and criminality such as, in a court of law. Second, epideictic, dealt with blame and praise; what you might hear at a special occasion like a funeral, or a dedication. The third form was deliberative, which dealt with future policy (this will be addressed in the chapter on policy debate). This is and has been one of the main focuses of American academic debate since the mid 1920’s. Regardless of which you use, Aristotle contended that there needed to be four parts to any discourse: an introduction, clear statement, an argument, and a conclusion.


Medieval Times and Rhetoric  SKIP FOR WEEK 1

Historical contributions regarding rhetoric of the medieval era are marked in religion. Truth became central again as it had in Platonic times. Like Plato St. Augustine believed in ultimate truths yet St. Augustine believed that truth originated through God and God sought to speak to humans through the bible. Trained in the art of rhetoric, Augustine began spreading religious “truths” employing his rhetorical knowledge. He wrote about his arriving at truth though the bible in his book “On Christian doctrine.”  This book and much of his teaching was a blend of rhetoric and Christian teaching, thus a form of preaching became an influential conduit of knowledge during the Medial times. His book was intended to teach other religious leaders how to “correctly” interpret the bible and train them to advocate successfully.

Christine De Pizan was a pioneering rhetorician of this time. Pizan is most notable for her critique of women’s position in society; specifically she analyzed the stereotypes that persisted in the male centered arts. Her rhetorical contributions stem from her writing that challenged male writers who incorporated misogynistic beliefs within their literary works, which subsequently trickled down into society.  Much of her writing centers on asking women to reclaim their sex and teaches them how to counteract male dominance.

Fundamentally Pizan sought to reconstruct the “truth” about her sex. The standards of her time banished woman as inferior objects who are incapable of grasping subjects such as the art of rhetoric or the goals of dialectics. She created stories that produced counter-narratives to what women were seeing and hearing that the time. Narratives surrounded women largely though the writings of men that placed them in degrading dehumanized stereotypes. By formulating a female dialogue that celebrated women she successfully created a new narrative for women. Her contributions to rhetoric stem from her persuasive skills in fighting a dominant discourse. Persuasive dialogue was a tool Pizan constructed in an attempt to arrive at truth; a tool provided and created for women that would be felt for centuries to come. She embodied the energy of humanism that provided the power for an individual to know and change the world. She not only provided a means of arriving at truth but a means to act on it (social change glimpse). The tenets of humanism asked that individuals understand the art, moral philosophy and then also the “civic” responsibility.


The Renaissance

While the Classical era had been a struggle with empiricism and transcendent truths and the medieval period had been concerned with religious truths, the Renaissance period took turn and eventually landed on humanism. Peter Ramus redefined rhetoric during this time; he transferred invention and arrangement to dialectics. Invention and arrangement were the first two “cannons of rhetoric,” more simply understood as the first key elements of rhetoric. Invention was the persuasive core of rhetoric, the stage where the rhetor finds something to say on a given topic. Today we would call this brainstorming. Arrangement is the basic organization of a given speech and where a rhetor was strategically placing arguments in order to have the greatest effect.  Ramus advocated that arrangement and invention were actually forms of logic and therefore could be replaced with dialectics-, which can be understood as the art of logical argumentation

His concept of truth was embedded in his concept of logic. Given that arrangement and invention were now banished cannons, memory, style and delivery were left. Fundamentally rhetorical study came to be understood as a way to dress logic and it lost importance and credibility quickly. Given this, this way of arriving at truth through logic no longer emphasized the “artistic” side of rhetoric.


The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment was full of key thinkers regarding rhetoric and truth.  Locke, Hume, Astell, and Descartes were large contributors during this time. Enlightenment and epistemology were related on an empirical and rational level. Hume published “A Treatise of Human Nature” a work that combined empiricism (under Locke’s conceptions), which determines the validity of ideas- thus the truth. Descartes focused on the power and importance of deduction. A rationalist, Descartes believed in the  “thinking mind”- the concept of “ I think therefore I am.” Locke and Bacon disagreed. According to Locke and Bacon, deduction (which is a formal means of logic- a rational and logical way to come to a “truth”) cannot produce truth. Deduction can only convey a way of knowing, which is faulty reasoning. Induction on the other hand (which makes generalizations based on single instances and is often used to generate hypothesis), can produce new knowledge. New knowledge is what science “should” produce. Rationalism at this time created the idea that truth can be arrived at through an appeal to reason which in not exactly negating the tenets of empiricism but isn’t exactly agreeing with it either. * Chapter 2 discusses deductive and inductive reasoning more completely.

The Enlightenment was a period in European history that was marked by scientific, political, and philosophical revolutions.  As these revolutions altered established notions regarding knowledge and truth, closer attention was paid to psychological processes of reflection and perception.  As a result, rhetoric underwent changes in the way in which it was understood due largely to the contributions of Francis Bacon.  Bacon’s theory separated the human mind into faculties. Bacon asserted that the human mind has three main faculties which together function as a trinity: memory, imagination and reason. These faculties allow us to comprehend the “truth”. His faculties were greatly studied and soon rhetoric shifted to appealing to these various faculties of the mind.  Resultant from Bacon’s theories was a movement in rhetoric that focused on the power and importance of delivery.  This development influenced how rhetoric was studied by shifting the focus towards delivery and away from the other forms.  This movement recognized the scientific function of rhetoric (psychology) and psychology’s role in persuasion. Because rhetoric became affiliated with scientific processes and scientific reasoning, rhetoric was further recognized as a legitimate area of study.

Mary Astell is best known for invading the masculine stronghold of traditional rhetoric. Yet still conservative, she developed a theory of rhetoric that is liberating for oppressed groups. She argued for a “separate but equal” model (for example, women’s rhetoric should focus on the art of conversation, which is different, but not inferior, to men’s focus on the public sphere). Astell asserted that women’s rhetoric should focus primarily on accommodating her audience. Her great contribution to rhetoric is that we challenged the win/lose tradition of rhetoric. Astell felt there was no need for discussions to be reduced to a mere winner or looser and argued for a nondiputatious model of communication. She served as a valuable role model for other women and was known for her great skill as an eloquent speaker, argument constructor, and philosopher. Unlike many elitist philosophers before her, Astell wanted her writings to be accessible to the masses. Her rhetoric often centered on style, clarity and truth. She believed that humans are naturally attracted to the truth, therefore stylistic ornaments are unnecessary. When she discusses style it is mostly a discussion in clarity to arrive at truth versus ways to employ stylish ways of speaking.


Astell claimed that even the best teachers of eloquence could help only a small amount. It is natural ability that One of the most important distinguishing features of her rhetoric was her principle of caring. The principle of caring established that audience members must believe that speakers have their own best interest at heart. She contends a speaker must have tenderness towards the audience and spare them any humiliations regardless of their absurdity or misguidedness. Her goal was not to win or to triumph over the audience, but rather, to get them to see the truth for their own good. This idea may remind you of the ethos that Aristotle discussed. Ethos concerns the character, good will, and credibility in general.

19th Century

Arguably, the most notable historical development that influences how rhetoric was studied taking place in the 19th century was the breaking off of rhetoric from composition. In the mid 19th century, written composition had become imbedded in rhetoric as one field. There was immense pressure during this period for one to be accomplished in the skill of writing effectively. Eventually, rhetoric was slowly detached from composition as composition became more about efficiency. Bain, Hill, Whately, and Coleridge are given some credit for the eventual parting of rhetoric from composition.  The breaking off of rhetoric from composition serves as a significant historical development because it marks the moment when rhetoric was given the opportunity to be taught without the overture of composition or what you would understand today as the discipline of English. It marked the time when the role of rhetoric in academia was redefined, reborn, and for the first time, was studied, as it’s own discipline.  This break-up forever changed the way rhetoric was taught, considered, and studied.

Susanne K. Langer was able to postulate an incredibly significant contribution to rhetoric regarding symbolism and meaning. Langer argued that the foundation to human understanding and epistemology (ways of knowing) lies in symbolism. Langer was among the first to discuss how symbols construct our reality and that language creates symbols and our language is effected by our cultures. Langer's work “Philosophy in a New Key,” discussed how language structures our perception. In a presentation on the famous rhetor, Arabella Lyon (1988) quotes,

What Langer did, so essential to the rebirth of rhetoric, was to represent meaning as both socially constructed and achieved collaboratively by rhetor and audience. Breaking with earlier tradition and prevailing thought in the 1940s by refocusing three key concerns with language, Langer (1) suggested the purpose of symbolization is not just communication, nor primarily communication, but rather a unique human need to express individual conceptions of the world, to create form, and, so, a reality; (2) broadened the understanding of what reason is by connecting all human thought to feeling, that is, the "sensuous experience" of the world; and (3) portrayed an interactive relationship of mutual interpretation between the rhetor and audience whose thoughts and language are pinioned by society.”



Contemporary or Modern contributions to rhetorical theory are vast and very different.  The contributions here are some the significant, but there are many more worthy of discussion that we simply do not have time to mention here; those mentioned will be important to your understanding of argumentation and debate for this course and significant to contributions to the discipline. Those mentioned also represent alternative perspectives in an attempt to provide you with a well -rounded understanding of contemporary rhetoric.

An important contributor to mention is Nietzsche. Understanding how truth is a reflection of perspective rather than a discovery of an absolute certainty is essential to understating Nietzsche’s contributions to rhetorical theory. Nietzsche’s views on perspectivism reduce epistemology to psychology in many ways (yet I use the word reduce lightly). The rise of morality and of moral disputes thus becomes a matter of psychology. Nietzsche has contributed a montage of remarks about truth in his works, yet he was not so much concerned with the best way to arrive at truth or the origination of truth. Nietzsche was more concerned with the effects “truths” have on a given audience. He indicates how claims of truth coerce agreement and conformity and blinds real truths. Unlike many before him, he does not attempt nor claim to have come up with some universal truth or a method of truth, rather he is interested in how conceptions of truth function in a society and how it effects a given society.  He is interested in questions of ontology and epistemology and as such his thoughts are more social and psychological than philosophical. He seeks to free humans from their “false consciousness” and attempts to change societies dominate structures. 

Whereas Aristotle sought to concentrate on the audience, Nietzsche concentrates on human agency in general. He concentrates on the individual- the human will. Thus the idea of empiricism is not existent here, nor is necessarily humanism, nor relativism, or positivism… his ideas nearly transcend all these categories. His work is important to rhetoric because he expanded what we consider to be rhetoric or rhetorical artifacts by claiming all language is rhetorical. Because humans are biased and prejudice; they are tainted by experience and assumption, by culture and expectation. “Nietzsche has made clear, no person can ever write untouched by these worldly prejudices” (Olsen, 2011, Para. 2). One’s conception of truth depends on the perspective from which one speaks, writes, etc (from the language one chooses). Given this, Nietzsche’s primary argument is that there is no truth outside of a person’s own individual perspective. A transcendent truth as Plato discussed is not possible in Nietzsche’s argument. Nietzsche’s opinion here has caused unrest in many rhetoricians and philosophers, because if Nietzsche is correct, how can any of us make any valid claims or theories that are valid to anyone other than ourselves?

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche argues that there is a lack of integrity on the part of philosophers who present their ideas as an ultimate truth and a product of pure reason. He states, “they pose as having discovered and attained their real opinions through the self-evolution of a cold, pure, divinely unperturbed dialectic: while what happens at bottom is that a prejudice, a notion, an ‘inspiration,’ generally a desire of the heart sifted and made abstract, is defended by them with reasons sought after the event” (Beyond Good and Evil, which will be referred to as BGE, I.5).  “Thus, philosophical insights are not the universal claims to truth that philosophers have presented them as and wished them to be. The philosophy of an individual is precisely that, not a product “of a cold, pure, divinely unperturbed dialectic” (as qutd. In Olsen, 2011, para. 2). Nietzsche asserts that often we have many illusions of truth; we forget that we created these illusions, and then we accept them as truths. Because we place our subjection opinions on issues and ideas and put those opinions into our own words or language, we negotiate meanings of ideas and arrive at a socially constructed and acceptable form of truth but not necessarily the "absolute truth". Truth is fundamentally a construction of a given language. Nietzsche is arguing that because humans created words that represent various objects and ideas, we are in a sense constructing a truth.

“Words are not truth–we have no other means of proving that a stone is hard. Therefore, language itself is uncertain and, in a sense, a lie. If what mattered in language was truth, there would not be so many languages”


We can ask what are the illusions that pass as truths in science and by what rhetoric do we come to believe this?  Informational and entertainment culture, basically everything becomes rhetoric according to Nietzsche’s argument because we must consider the person whom is arriving at the “logical conclusion” or “truth” as a way of understanding that truth. “It would be fallacious to look at a philosopher’s ideas without looking at the philosopher who was motivated to write them down (Olsen, 2011, para 2). 3). Perception and prejudice plagues philosopher’s works because of their own experiences and subjective interpretations and word choice. For the most part Nietzsche believes the audience is unaware of the biases and prejudices of the authors and asks that we begin to consider the perspective of authors when considering their claims of truth.

Unlike Plato, Nietzsche is not a believer in human’s ability to arrive at an absolute truth. Nietzsche contends “I shall reiterate a hundred times that ‘immediate certainty, like ‘absolute knowledge’ and ‘thing in itself,’ contains a contradictio in adjecto [contradiction in terms]: we really ought to get free from the seduction of words!” (BGE I.16).  This does not mean he doesn’t believe there are absolute truths out there, but rather he is skeptical of human’s ability to obtain it. He does believe there are degrees of truthfulness and one can get close to truth but never be absolutely certain that their derived truth is the ultimate truth.

Robert Solomon (1996) explains, “Perspectives and interpretations are always subject to measure, not by comparison with some external ‘truth,’ perhaps, but by evaluation in their context and according to the purposes for which they are adopted” (p.196). It is essential to Nietzsche that humans understand that the truths they arrive at are affected by society and their own perspectives but he also recognizes that humans need to act as thought the truths they come to are truths in order to have a good life. He contends that humans should not and cannot act if they are constantly uncertain of their opinion. Therefore, a person must commit to her actions as a true and just thing. In sum, he wants us to recognize that our conception of truth is always influenced by our own perspectives and cultures, that an ultimate truth is not obtainable because of this, and yet, it is important that we get as close to our truth as possible and act in its inspiration. An extreme simplification of this idea could be understood in the following example. Ask yourself what you are reading right now. Is it a book? A packet?  Let’s say you choose that it is a book. Why did you come to that truth? Why are you so certain it is a book? Could it be a bird? A table? Fundamentally, you believe this is a book because from the time your young you were told that such things are books. You were told that items with paper bound and holding information in typed form, by authors on a given subject are books. You have accepted this as a truth. Nietzsche would say that it is not an ultimate truth that this is a book. He would contend that we have accepted that “truth”, but it is not an absolute truth. Accepting that truth allows us to function more easily in our surroundings. We must act as if we fully believe this thing you are reading is a book or chaos will ensue and we will be in an endless argument. So, it is a book. But that is not an “ultimate truth” rather just “a truth,” which has been shaped largely by our surroundings and perspectives.

Bell hook’s major contributions to rhetoric are in her opinions on language distortion & issues of class. She states, “It is not the English language that hurts me, but what the oppressors do with it” (p. 168). Beginning with Corax, we can see how language and those with access to education of how to become skilled orators was a tool for great power. Hooks argues, that today it is no different. She points out that today we still have issues of accessible education and therefore this lack of fair access results in oppression and elitism, and prejudices.  The language of liberation has been distorted to reinforce and secure the privileged class. The sophists were the first to make rhetoric and the skills of language accessible to the masses, but even the sophists asked for money, and therefore that education was still not accessible to the lower and lowest classes. Hooks asserts that theories are reserved for the elite, based on the language.

Her struggle is to unite feminist theory with practical application to people’s lives

She brought the discourse on feminist theory out of the complex, elite level it had gone to, which denied women outside of the academy and understanding of it and she dedicated herself to reconciling these two camps.  She argued that in order for education to be liberating, we must create theory that is meaningful and can be contextualized within the lived experiences of students- all students. A primary concept hooks discusses in her books is the idea of the self-reflective, vulnerable educator, which is a simple act of “sharing” one’s experiences. Shared experiences are a powerful way to connect and create shared meaning, and yet, this form of educating is often discouraged in contemporary society.  Hooks writes, “ideally, education should be a place where the need for diverse teaching methods and styles would be valued, encouraged, seen as essential to learning” (p. 203).  Her primary goal is to create strategies to achieve critical awareness and engagement. Hooks concept of invention is different than the classical rhetoricians in that it requires the rhetor to invent “alternative habits” to transform the way people think and act out oppression of all forms.  It almost seems as if hooks is echoing Quintilian with this by saying that rhetoric should only work for good – in this case, good being the work for human rights”.  Foss, Foss, and Trapp write regarding hooks, “To arrive at a more humane world", hooks asks that rhetors "be willing to courageously surrender participation’ in coercive hierarchical domination” (p. 279). All struggles must be acknowledged simultaneously in order to make any real changes. And change is at the core of her rhetoric. More than anything, she aims to inspire others to use rhetoric for good and to recognize how language can reinforce dominations and oppression and to act to reduce this. * Please read your assigned pages in your other rhetoric book for more contemporary rhetoricians.






Famous Rhetoric Definitions:




Aristotle saw dialectic as the counterpoint of rhetoric. Many rhetorical scholars have long debated and conjecture over the exact nature, meaning, and purpose of dialectic, it is fairly clear that dialectic is viewed as a method of arriving at the truth of an issue. Aristotle proposed that dialectic was best seen in the question and answer method, glorified by Plato regarding his own teacher Socrates. This method became known as the dialectic method and is best seen today in courts of law. Here, lawyers ask witnesses questions and through these questions the jury ideally can see the truth in that particular situation. Plato, through the Socratic dialogues, taught that there were ideal or perfect truths and that pure and sound reasoning could allow certain people to arrive at the “perfect truth” for such things as art, love, architecture, and many other things.

Aristotle did not rigidly follow Plato’s views of perfect truths, but he did believe that the dialectic process could enable reasonable people to arrive at the truth. He also believed that unethical people could attempt to fool, or confuse others and therefore, firmly believed it was the responsibility of all citizens to be armed in the rhetorical art so as to properly defend themselves and to advance truth. As we mentioned earlier, scholars have long debated over Aristotle’s meanings, and he was not terribly clear about the full nature of dialectic. We teach that rhetoric and dialectic should come together in human argumentation. Thus, the rhetorical practices of ethos, pathos and logos (appealing to the audience’s emotions, using credibility in speaking, and appealing to the audience with logic) are needed, but the best method of arriving at truth is through the dialectic method of cross-examination of all parties. This fits in well with current academic debate practices in a college forensics program and the debate teams they may sponsor.

Frans H. van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst, two leading authors in the pragma-dialectic approach to argumentation, provide a distinction between rhetoric and dialectic. “The rhetorical stages [opening, development, proof, and conclusion] are considered to be essential to securing an agreement of the target audience. The dialectical stages [confrontation, opening, argumentation, and concluding are instrumental] in resolving a difference of opinion” (footnote 42, p 59-60). We will now briefly examine the rhetorical and dialectic models to argumentation.


Rhetorical and Dialectic Models to Argumentation

The rhetorical approach to argumentation follows the pattern for a classic persuasive speech in which the speaker attempts to br  ing as much of the audience as possible into agreement with her that a serious situation exists AND that she has a reasonable solution. So, in a typical oration the speaker begins with the “Opening stage,” by gaining our attention, building confidence, building similarities with the audience and finally laying out the thesis of the main arguments. The first stage in the dialectical approach, “Confrontation,” assumes disagreement or there would be no reason for a critical discussion. This disagreement can be expressed explicitly, but is often assumed to either exist or that it will eventually emerge. So, a rhetorical approach toward a topic about legalizing marijuana develops from the primary standpoint of persuading the audience that the speaker has the best approach. A person may begin by simply stating “It would sure be nice to find some additional monies for schools since tuition keeps rising. Since Californians have supported marijuana legalization for the past few elections, it makes sense to completely legalize it.” The speaker is not necessarily assuming a negative or affirmative audience, but simply trying to build some consensus for the proposition that Californians should find money for schools and the most acceptable way right now is legal marijuana.

The dialectical approach begins with the assumption of confrontation; therefore, a person might begin by trying to find the actual areas of disagreement or if, in fact, disagreement exists. A similar discussion of marijuana may begin with all people discussing the need for additional monies for California schools. Some might explicitly state the explicit confrontation, as “I don’t want to pay more money to bail out the schools.” Another person might claim, “I don’t mind indirect taxes on food and stuff, but no more property taxes,” while a third person may claim “Just raise the taxes on alcohol and cigarettes more, since people don’t need that stuff anyway.” Since everyone seems to be in agreement with the unstated premise that schools are important, the conversation would advance until there is an understood confrontational proposition. Someone may then advance the idea: “What about legalizing marijuana and using all the tax money to help the schools?”

The confrontation stage is thus highlighted by direct questions which seek to find agreement or disagreement. The second stage is the narrative/opening stage. Remember, the key purpose of dialectic is not persuasion, but to find reality through discussion and therefore truth finding. In rhetoric, the narrative stage consists of building or presenting a narrative account of the case. This may involve a personal example or narrative, but is most concerned with the development of the story. This is like the journalists use of “Who, what, when, where, and why.” The speaker must establish a strong narrative in order to build common understanding with the audience. Without this, the audience may well be confused and even worse, misunderstand and not be persuaded. The second stage of the dialectic model is the “opening.” It is here that the people involved determine how much common ground exists and whether it is fruitful to continue in a dialectic, or “truth-seeking” discussion. There is not much reason to continue if everyone is in agreement. It is also in this stage when people will assume the “protagonist”—defending the standpoint or proposition, and another party is the “antagonist”—reacting critically to the proposition and the defense of it. If a speaker was using the rhetorical model for discussing the topic of “religion in public schools,” then he or she might use the narrative stage to explain about a specific situation in which religion was or was not allowed or tolerated. In the dialectical approach, the speakers would first be asking question to determine the level of agreement and then began the process of defending or attacking the idea of religion in public schools. As you can see, there is a very important difference between these two approaches in argumentation. The rhetorical approach assumes the audience needs some initial background and guidance; the dialectic assumes a certain level of understanding and attempts to locate separate sides (protagonist and antagonist).

The third level is the argumentation stage and is similar for both the rhetorical and the dialectic. Argumentation comes from the Latin, Argumentatio meaning “to bring forth.” In both the rhetorical and dialectic, the speaker is required to bring forth the arguments to best support their positions. The rhetorical speaker may use logical examples, or pathos appeals to move their audience. The dialectic speakers are, because of the opening stage, locked into their positions and therefore are presenting only their sides of the proposition. While the rhetorical debater may present both sides in order to demonstrate why his side is best, the dialectic debater does not because an opponent already exists. In discussing the best means of curbing juvenile delinquency to a city council, a rhetorical debater may explain why additional staff for an outreach center, while sounding like a good idea, may not work because the outreach center does not even attract the at-risk. After explaining why this approach will not work, the rhetorical debater may then be ready to move on to why his or her approach is the best. The dialectical debaters know there is someone else to argue opposing views, so each person’s job is to advance and defend their own position.

The last stage known as peroration/conclusion is also similar for both approaches. The peroration of a rhetorical argument is designed to conclude but also to inspire. It is not enough, according to the classic Greek model of oration—to simply conclude or summarize the speech. To be persuasive, it is also necessary to move the audience to your side. The rhetorical debater seeks, perhaps through lofty language or some other rhetorical means, to inspire their audience to take action or at least accept their position. The dialogical debater, however, is seeking to resolve a difference of opinion. According to van Eemeren and Grootendorst, this stage is not concluded unless the parties agree that the protagonist’s position [the one who defends the proposition, or the negative speaker] is acceptable and the antagonist’s [the one who attacks the proposition, or the affirmative speaker] doubt must be retracted or the standpoint of the protagonist must be retracted.” Dialectic debates are often concluded by the audience deciding whether the antagonist has given enough solid reason and evidence and analysis to convince them to accept the proposition or to stay with the protagonist. Using the marijuana topic, did the antagonist prove that legalizing marijuana and using the tax money for schools was both a good and acceptable idea AND that it would also make a big difference for the schools. If not, then the audience will probably stay with the way things are right now (the protagonist's point of view).

Argumentation involves the best of rhetorical and dialectical practices. It should be geared toward a specific audience and thus rhetorical but it should also rely on strict rules to allow for the best and most fair method for all sides to present their views. Argumentation is more than “logical communication” or “persuasive reasoning” because it needs both substance (rhetoric) and form (dialectic). We try to emphasize both approaches, rhetorical and dialectical; in order to help you achieve as deep an appreciation as possible of argumentation, while still obtaining necessary skills for advancing claims and defending your own positions. This is a simple definition of both terms and does not incorporate the deep philosophical meanings and developments. However, it does provide a simple framework for the study of modern debate while allowing for the introduction of alternative methods.

There is an entire movement in Europe known as the pragma-dialectic approach toward argumentation. The pragma-dialectic approach attempts to create specific rules for conversational argument. This is a gross over simplification, since the studies and findings involve multiple books and articles outlining, in very specific detail, multiple rules for best ensuring reasonable and fair conversational debate; some are listed rules at the end of this chapter. A key component to the pragma dialectic approach is to identify and use standard conversation rules in evaluating argument involves as many as 23 or more specific rules and is designed to theorize about debate as a spoken activity.

Ultimately, argumentation involves an audience. You may be arguing with one other person and thus your audience represents the opposing view, or it may involve a virtually unlimited number of people—think of any recent high publicity trial from O.J. Simpson to Michael Jackson to Casey Anthony, the woman accused and acquitted of murdering her daughter.



Ethos, pathos, & logos PART OF WEEK 1

As briefly discussed in the previous pages, Aristotle articulated three primary areas of persuasion; ethos, pathos, and logos.












Aristotle acknowledged several ways of gaining credibility: Good sense, good character, and good will. Ethos is loosely translated as the speaker’s credibility. Though it is given or assigned by the audience, it is up to the speaker to win or lose it. Good sense is the first and primary issue of this text. It is usually likened to organization, arguments, and logic. In this context, good sense refers to how we reason—both as the person making the argument and the person receiving the argument. Argumentation is a process, and therefore is an active, participatory activity. You do no passively engage in argumentation or reasoning. Therefore, in order to build credibility with your audience or your opponent, you must provide solid reasons and be able to listen critically.

The second area of ethos or credibility is the notion of good character. In general, good character refers to who you are as a person. Does the audience believe or feel that you a person of your word. Are you genuine, or do you seem only interested in yourself. You can probably think of many examples of people who do or do not have good character, such as famous sports legends, actors, politicians, etc. As I write this, legendary baseball ball player Barry Bonds is on trial for allegedly using steroids and lying about it. He has long since stopped playing baseball, but is now fighting for his shot at the hall of fame. Being acquitted of the charges should enhance his sense of character—a man who has not lied—and therefore give him a better opportunity of being inducted into Cooperstown (the “Hall of fame” site).

The third aspect of ethos is good will, which is similar to good character in how we perceive the speaker’s intention. Good will addresses the issue of whether the speaker is more concerned about the audience or themselves. In general, if the speaker attempts to relate the topic to us and tries to make it important to us, then we are more likely to believe they are concerned with us. The debater tries to do the same by developing the notions of the significance of the topic and by choosing examples and stories that we, the audience, can best understand. The debater may not have their own choice of the topic, but can choose his or her own examples to use. If he uses examples which are difficult to comprehend or do not seem relevant to us, then we may not view him as being too concerned with us. Working on improving these three aspects of ethos does not guarantee the audience will accept your position; however, it does provide them with more reasons to believe you, which should provide you with ample opportunity to present your case. Developing strong credibility can be enhanced through the second aspect of Aristotle’s rhetoric, pathos.

Pathos is roughly defined as arguments, which are primarily based on appeals to emotions. As Aristotle said, “an audience is more likely to behave a certain way if they feel angry than if they feel content.” This can be directly related to the use of evidence. There is more specific discussion about evidence in that section as well as a more detailed discussion of appealing to audience emotions in the delivery section. During a debate, you usually have the opportunity to present what you think is the most important or persuasive evidence or proof. You might choose lists of statistical harms, numbers, charts and basic quantitative proof. Most people will not find this to be very emotionally appealing, but is should help in detailing how much or how many of something is happening. For example, “72% of all Americans are affected by smoking either through direct inhaling or through second-hand-smoke.” This statement provides an accurate picture—assuming the statistic is correct—of how many people are affected. It does not give us a sense of the quality of the harm. Who are these people?  Should I personally feel affected? Just how does this affect me? You could also read a brief example of a teen that developed asthma and yet never smoked. Tell us that her family never smoked either, but because she had friends who smoked, she ingested enough harmful chemicals in five years as if she had been smoking. Such a story helps to bring to life the statistics about 72% of all Americans being affected. Combining the statistic and the story provide even further impact. The basic point regarding pathos appeals is to understand what your audience is most concerned about and to try to give them information with which they can empathize or understand on an emotional level. This can backfire too, as when a debater makes cliché appeals to make us feel angry or guilty. You probably don’t want to go into great detail about a young girl who was raped and wanted an abortion but her family refused because she was Catholic. There are just too many emotional buttons being pushed here and your audience may completely tune you out because they don’t want to hear it. They may stop listening to any logical appeals and just react immediately based on their deep-seeded values. Pathos can be a strong and convincing way to reach an audience, but it is best to be authentic in your appeals to the audience’s emotions. One method is to make sure you sound sincere. Most audiences can tell if you are insincere just through your delivery or demeanor. Poorly delivered pathos appeals have the potential to ruin your argument and ruin your credibility. An authentic and polished delivery of an appeal to the audience’s emotions has the potential to not only persuade, but inspire people to action. In this class, pathos is a good choice in your opening attention getting devices, delivery of startling statistics or to humanize examples. You may therefore need to rehearse certain stories in order to allow your audience to feel your concern. Don’t be overdramatic or ridiculous, but sometimes it takes a little practice to actually sound natural.

Logos refers to organization and logic. However, most people naturally associate logos with logic—the two words seem similar enough. Indeed, logos are primarily concerned with logic and are often taught as a stand-alone class with great emphasis on very formal rules. Understanding the basic rules of logic is important but it is equally important to be able to use logical reasoning to debate your position.

A more general understanding of logos includes your ability to present solid and rational reasons that your audience can follow. An audience will find you more credible if your points are easy to follow because an audience can assume that a disorganized presentation is the sign of an unprepared thought. An audience may even interpret that you are trying to purposely confuse them and that leads to a loss of trust or ethos. It is much better to simply present one idea with sufficient supporting evidence than three or four scattered ideas, jumbled together with random thoughts and evidence.

There are two separate chapters for different debates and each one has specific guidelines for specific outlines or “Briefs” for each of the required speakers. Your professor may give you specific requirements for certain assignments. “Briefs” are selected, prepared arguments which can support your position or attack possible opponent’s positions. Successful arguments depend on clear structure, just like a well-written essay, a successful movie, or even a song. We have certain expectations for any communication act, and debate is no different. If the audience cannot follow your thoughts they may choose to agree with your opponent. There is a separate section which covers the brief in general and more detailed information in the policy debate section for that style of debate.

Essentially, for this class, you can better achieve logos through your logical structure of points and your ability to use inductive and deductive reasoning.


Five canons of rhetoric SKIP FPR WEEK 1


Aristotle also contributed to what is now termed the five canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Rhetoric was divided into these categories and is currently the most accepted template for rhetorical education and pedagogy. Rhetorical treatises through the centuries have been drawn from these categories. At different points in time different areas were considered more important than others. For instance, at first delivery was not considered as important, but some time later rhetoric was almost purely defined as style and delivery. Now rhetoricians accept all areas as equally important and recognize the importance of having each one in a given rhetorical act. We will briefly touch on the five areas dedicating considerably more effort to areas like delivery because other cannons, such as arrangement and invention (as they relate to logic and making a case) are covered in detail in chapter two.
















            Invention is concerned with what is said rather than how it is said, thus invention is associated closely with the rhetorical appeal of logos (discussed in chapter two). Invention comes from the Latin word “invenire” which means, “to find,” because the first step in the rhetorical process is to find the persuasive argument. Topoi (a Greek term meaning places) or “topics of invention” were created to help brainstorm for ideas. Topoi are the basic categories of relationships among ideas and they serve as simple templates for creating the foundation to your arguments. Aristotle divided these topois or topics into two categories: common and special. Common topics include: definition, division, comparison, relationship, circumstances, testimony, notion, and conjugates. The special topics include: judicial (justice vs. injustice), deliberative (good, unworthy, advantages, disadvantages), and ceremonial (virtue and vice). These concepts are expanded in the remainder of this text.



Arrangement dictates how a speech or writing should be organized. Originally, in ancient rhetoric’s, arrangement was only concerned with oration, now we have broadened rhetoric to include the written form as well. The Classical arrangement of oration is

1.      Introduction-the start of a speech, where the orator announces the subject, purpose, and persuasion in an attempt to also gain credibility

2.      Statement of facts- the speaker provides a narrative of what current situation is and explains the nature of the case including a summary of the issues and/or a statement of the charge.

3.      Division- the speaker outlines what will come and reviews what has been said, or point at issue in the case. This can be easily understood as a preview and review of points and basic organizational structure.

4.      The proof- this is where the speaker appeals to logic and rationality (logos).

5.      Refutation- is where the speaker answers the counterarguments of her/his opponent.

6.      Conclusion- is the summary of the issue and main points and conventionally includes an appeal to pathos.



Style is the artful expression of ideas. There are seven pure types of style: clarity, grandeur, beauty, rapidity, character, sincerity, and force. It is concerned with how something is said. Style is meant to align the appropriate verbal expression for the orators given intentions.



The degree to which an orator remembers her speech is the primary understanding of memory, but memory as a cannon, also considers the methods a speaker uses to ensure the audience retains the speeches primary teachings and persuasions.



Delivery is essential to appealing to the audience’s emotions (pathos) and is critical in establishing a speaker’s credibility (ethos). Delivery deals primarily with verbal utterances and emotional impact but also body language, gestures and tonal fluctuations. Because this cannon is especially important to understanding the mastery of rhetoric as an art we have discussed it in greater detail below.




The canons of rhetoric are each important and even critical to debate and persuasion in general. In the text thus far and in the coming chapters we will have examined the cannons of arrangement and invention significantly. Much of this text focuses on building credibility (ethos) and logic (logos) within your argument construction, but delivery (an essential skill to pathos and ethos) is of substantial importance as well and should not be overlooked when you are practicing your speeches and participating in debate. We will explore the importance of and the role of delivery in speechmaking, argumentation, and debate in this section of the text.

Much of the population thinks communicating effectively is a formula of words and sequence. However, effective communication means making sure one’s body language and tone of voice is consistent with the content of the speech. Tone, volume, and inflection make up 38% of communication (Berkley, 1999). Tone can add “music” to a speech, affect selling ability, and thrust an audience towards expressing a full continuum of emotions.

Delivery has been considered an integral part of communication, (argumentation, and debate for centuries. Hellenistic and Roman treaties gave delivery significant deliberation. Aristotle wrote that delivery “is of the greatest importance…it is a manner of voice…used for each emotion” (Rhetoric 1403b20; Johnstone, 2001). Aristotelian thought considers the following in terms of delivery:  Manner of presentation, mode of presentation (impromptu, extemporaneous, memory, and manuscript), body language, posture, gestures, movement, eye contact, vocal skills including articulation, and ultimately how physical characteristics of a given rhetor affects the audience. Sophists, Cicero, Quintilian, and even Plato dedicated much of their discussion on rhetoric to the concept of delivery. 4th and 5th century Sophists taught the importance of inflicting emotional change in the audience partly through one’s acoustic control (Golden, Berquist, & Coleman 2000; Johnstone 2001; Hikins 1996). Cicero claimed delivery was the most important skill a rhetor could ever posses. “A moderate speaker with a trained delivery can often out do the best of them” (Cicero, III.11.19; Johnstone , 2001, p. 124). Quintilian agreed saying, “A mediocre speech supported by all the power of delivery will be more impressive than the best speech unaccompanied by such power” (XI.3.5-6; Johnstone, 2001, p. 124).

            Delivery includes verbal and nonverbal elements. The major components of delivery that you need to be aware of and master in order to be a fully effective rhetor, arguer, or debater is articulation, enunciation, pronunciation, tone, pitch, speech rate, pausing, expressions, and eye contact.


1. Someone who articulates well is a speaker who puts words together well and is able to convey meaning in a clear, straightforward but also relatively sophisticated and educated manner. Articulation has components of enunciation and pronunciation. Generally, articulation reflects the speaker’s credibility, perceived level of intelligence, and vocabulary.


2. Enunciation is the manner of speaking clearly and concisely. Speech and debate instructors often give their students a series of exercises to ensure they utter the sounds of each letter in a clear and precise manner in order to better their enunciation. The opposite of good enunciation is mumbling or slurring.


3. Pronunciation is a part of enunciation and therefore articulation. Pronunciation is to pronounce sounds of words correctly. Various cultures pronounce words differently. For instance you may have heard people refer to “tomato versus tomahtoe”- it is the same word just pronounced differently within different dialects. You want to try to use the dialect of your audience or at least be aware that if your dialect is different you risk misunderstandings.


4. Tone on the other hand is not as easily described, as its qualities are difficult to define. Tone incorporates subtle cues of the rhetor’s attitude, emotions, and persuasive efforts understood as "the quality of voice.” Given this, the quality of delivery in the utterance of words can significantly amplify or distort purpose or rhetorical attempts of a given speech. Tone displays a wide range of emotions, energies, and descriptors. It carries social information, such as in a sarcastic, condescending, or subservient manner of speaking. Tone adds meaning and emotion to actual chosen words. Although tone is often identified with the implied or underlying meaning of a word; tone is much more subtle and delicate and occurs with the actual vocal control of the speaker. Tone has the unique ability to capture the essence of emotion that other forms of language cannot.


5. Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of the utterance itself, specifically, level, range and variation.


6. Rate refers to the speed at which the rhetor speaks. It can also be understood as the number of words spoken per minute.  A speaker’s rate of speech often increases when she/he is nervous. 


7. Movement includes the physical shifts in the speakers body whether that be though actual purposefully planned steps and shifts of weight or more distracting negative speaker behaviors such as swaying back and fourth, kicking or shaking legs, shifting back and forth, nervous habits, etc.


8. Pauses are essential tools in speaking, pauses are intervals of silence between or within words, phrases or sentences what add meaning, create drama, reflect emotion, and more. When pauses are planned they can create a great movement and emotional display.


9. Posture refers to the relative relaxation or rigidity and vertical position of the body. A ridged speaker who lacks natural stance and gesture will reflect a lack of professionalism, preparation, and general credibility.

Delivery Exercises


As expressed earlier, enunciation and articulation are fundamental to your credibility as a speaker. Given this, it is important that you become skilled at enunciation and articulate thoughts and ideas in a clear manner.


Below you will find the most common sounds that speakers struggle with. You need to start out very slowly and deliberately enunciating and pronouncing each sound over and over until you do it correctly 3 times in a row. Until you are an exceptionally skilled speaker, the rule to know is, if you think you are over enunciating, you are doing it just right. When you feel like you are doing it just right or enough, you are not doing it good enough. Once you have mastered the single words then progress to the sentences. Say the sentences over and over and at faster and faster speeds. Once you have a fast rate down, try to emphasize various words within the sentence and say each sentence with various emotions. For instance, say the sentence with excitement and emphasize the 3rd and 5th words. Then say the sentence with other emotions such as, anger, sadness, confusion, irritation, and surprise and choose different words to emphasis with a tonal change.


The sounds of W

Which witch watched Willy watch Wanda wash windows?

Which wing waived and rocked?

Rest is best when waiting










way- wee- why- who-woe


The sounds of R

Reid was eerie, airy, and fiery with fury

Red leather. Yellow leather. Red leather. Yellow leather.

Ryan dreamed of airy brown branches.

Roberta drew drinks of dripping fruit.












The sounds of TH

Theo thought the weather was soothing

Cathy loathed bathing feathers

The mythical thieves thought through the weather



















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