Logos Chapter 4
Everything's an Argument

On Star Trek, Dr. Spock is known as the "logical one."  He based his carefully thought-out explanations on LOGOS, the logical side of argumentation.  

The logos appeal uses your good old noggin': "We continue to want access to the facts on the assumption that they will help us make the best arguments" (Lunsford, et al. 55). Fact: people like facts.  Logos is the easiest appeal to use to argue.  When presented with pathos, ethos, and logos, logos will win almost every time.  We like facts, evidence, and common sense (we hope).  

Hard Evidence

Aristotle classifies argumentation according to the following two categories:

Artistic-This is COMMON SENSE.  Common sense is created by the writer and appeals to reason (COMMON SENSE).  However, not every person has common sense, so do not assume all people will accept (or understand) your claim.

Inartistic- FACTS ONLY.  The writer researches and finds facts to support a claim.  This is called HARD EVIDENCE.  These include facts, statistics, testimonies, witnesses, contracts, (legal) documents.  

The Declaration of Independence is an example that uses both these appeals.  Jefferson presents his argument using ARTISTIC (COMMON SENSE) evidence ("Hey, people, why do you want to be slaves and treated like dirt?") and INARTISTIC (FACTS) evidence ("Let facts be submitted to a candid world...").


Complete the Respond Activity on page 60.

"Just the Facts, Ma'am."

Joe Friday from Dragnet would tell witnesses he wanted "Just the facts."  Sometimes people want numbers.  Numbers are impervious...right?  Seemingly.  Although numbers seem to be the end-all be-all to argumentation, these can be manipulated to serve a purpose.  Our AP Calculus teacher can prove "1 = 2".    (However, we tend to believe him because he has presented himself as an ethical person who has the knowledge to prove this.  Ironically, he is a person who can manipulate numbers into whatever he wants you to believe.)  

Be wary of numbers and statistics.  When a jewelry company states

a person should be a little skeptical.  Why two months' salary?  What is the typical two months' salary (then and now)?  Can typical people afford to give two months' salary at one time?   (Consider the company who supports this--De Beers.  They are not the most ethical company, so why would the company care how much one person has to sacrifice to buy a diamond.)

Here are the facts broken down:

How about this fact: "Unemployment in the US is down to 5.8%."  What is the claim (argument) of this statement? What is the significance of the percentage?  How can this be re-interpreted? Why a percentage?  Why not a number?

Look at how numbers can be interpreted to fit an agenda:

As of October 2014, the US population was 316,100,000 (that's million).  Multiply 316,100,000 by .058.  That is 18,333,800 (million) people unemployed in the United States. That number looks different from 5.8%, does it not?  Be careful with dazzling numbers.

Look at the wording of this Unemployment report from the Department of Numbers:

"US Unemployed

The number of people unemployed in the US peaked in October 2009 at 15,352,000. There are now 6,664,000 fewer people unemployed in the country."

How does this wording change the unemployment percentage?  A lower number quoted means people feel better about the unemployment rate.  

"Figures lie, and liars figure."  Nice chiasmus that encapsulates the risky business of readily believing facts and statistics.  Always look beyond the numbers and question every statistic.  Look at motives.  

Unfortunately, many people are not inclined to analyze numbers.  Some people may not care.  Some may hate math.  Some eyes may glaze over as numbers are endlessly spouted.  That is the beauty of facts: they can be manipulated to fit any agenda.

If you are going to use numbers, be sure to cite the source.  Make sure the cite is reliable (tabloids are NOT reliable; Wikipedia is not high on the list, either).  Check the DATE of the facts.  If you are using facts over 6 months to two years old on a current issue, you may want to look for more recently published facts.  Ronald Reagan quoted a Russian proverb: "Trust, but verify." This (along with the chiasmus above) should be your guidance through the forest of facts and statistics known as Inartistic Logos.

Check This Out...

View the original site the author garnered his information.  numerically, what is wrong with this?

What about this?

Susan Komen is synonymous with Breast Cancer Research.  The organization raises millions of dollars a year to "find a cure."  Read the article below.  How do you feel about wearing pink for the "cure" now?

Surveys and Polls

*Surveys and polls express "the will of the people."  Elections are the ultimate "will of the people."  These can also be used to influence social change.  A survey of math ECA scores could change education.  Low scores in ECA math prompt lawmakers to require remediation for students who may not pass. In addition, teachers are placed under scrutiny for being "ineffective" if students scores fall too low.  

Caveat: Always question survey and poll numbers (especially if you "smell a rat").  Here are a few guidelines:

1. Ask who commissioned the poll.

2. Who is publishing the survey.

3. Who was surveyed. (I think this is probably the most important.)

4. What stakes the people have in the outcome.

Do not "hand select" your poll/survey takers.  You should survey and poll a random population and not people you know are going to answer the questions the way you want.  Also, do not choose 2-3 people; question a wide and hefty number of the population.

*Even if you DO NOT agree with the outcome of the results, do acknowledge the results and the credibility of the results.  (This would be your counterargument.)  

*Be careful of the wording of surveys and polls.  Wording questions a certain way can bias people (intentionally and unintentionally).  Diction does matter.  "Same sex marriage," "same sex unions," "homosexual unions," "homosexual marriage" will evince different answers and responses from people.  To negate people towards this topics, strong wording just may do that.  Ask for or try to find how the questions were worded before using in an argument.

*The date of the survey or poll matters. Any catastrophic event can influence people's opinions.  We believe we should not give any more aid to foreign countries.  A tsunami in Africa kills half the continent.  A poll on foreign aid given after the disaster may affect results--now we want to give foreign aid.

Before using polls and surveys in arguments, be sure to check the date.  Do not use old data.  A family member on Facebook saw a post in which I mentioned Hobby Lobby.  She posted on my wall an article about 4,000 Hobby Lobby stores closing in the United States.  The article date was January 4, 2014.  Hmmmmmm, I had just left the store one hour ago... and the store was still there. She used information that was old and obviously invalid. (I do not think she was too happy I pointed out the flaw in her evidence.)

Testimonies and Narratives

Court cases require testimonies.  Part of the verdict a jury delivers is based on testimonies.  Narratives are also part of the verdict.  Narratives and testimonies are those bridges built to the audience.  Personal stories may carry an argument farther than a multitude of numbers.

Artistic Appeals

Lack of facts does not indicate an argument is incomplete.  In a random discussion with friends, facts are not going to fall from the sky.  An argument can still be valid if common sense is used.  

The most common type of artistic appeal is from Aristotle: the syllogism.  A syllogism is a set of steps one uses to reach a conclusion.  The amount of steps depends on the amount of reasoning needed.  Some arguments are more complex than others and need more steps.  Others are simple and can be reached in a few steps.  

Here is the formula:

Major premise.

Minor premise.


For example:

All human beings are mortal.

Socrates is a human being.

Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Of course, just because a statement has a major and minor premise and a conclusion does not make the statement a legitimate syllogism (as the one pictured above).  A further study would reveal this cannot be (facts and a physics teacher would be needed to aid the argument).  

Does this count as a legitimate syllogism?  The common sense is there, but further study would indicate otherwise.  (I could only wish this were true...)

More Logic

As an arguer, you can use degree, analogies, and precedent (see pages 70-72).  

The Appeals

Pathos, ethos, and logos are what constitute an argument.  Good arguers combine two or three in an argument.  Relying on one appeal more than the other can make an argument too "heavy."  A purely ethical argument is going to be tedious to a numbers person.  A nice blend of the appeals makes for well-rounded argument.