žEthos = Ethical.

žAn argument that uses the ethical appeal seeks to establish a character.

žEthos creates quick connections between the audience and the argument.

žSuch connections are built on the following ethical questions: Should we pay attention to this person? Can we trust this person? Do we want to trust this person?

žLook at the following two people:

Who is this?
Who is this infamous person?

What does/did each person do to make him an ethical representation? Which audiences would each of these men appeal? Why?

ž1. Should we pay attention to them? Why or why not and in what situation?

2. Can we trust them? In which situations can we trust them?

3. Do we want to trust them? In which situations can we trust them?

These are questions we should ask when we rely on other’s opinions to shape our opinions.

žArguments based on character depend on one important word—TRUST.

žPeople accept arguments from trustworthy people and we TRUST them because of reputations.

žBasically, THREE components make up ETHOS: trustworthiness, authority, and unselfish or clear motives.

We turn to certain people because they have established the three components. They have built their backgrounds and authority and are deemed trustworthy.


žMost speeches begin with a joke or some funny story. These put listeners at ease, thereby making a connection to the speaker. You MUST respect the audience.

žYet, credibility is established by making sensible claims and supporting them with evidence. This shows your knowledge and builds your credibility.

žWould you ask me a questions about math? Why not? Would you ask Mr. S about The Great Gatsby? Why not? The answers are obvious because we have established credibility over many years.

žBelieve it or not, reliable sources in a research paper and correct spelling and mechanics establish credibility. Even though the claims are solid, if you present your findings in a slovenly way, you have ruined your ethos as an arguer.

žHow do you feel about people on fb who rant about other’s shortcomings and the people who posted misspell words and forgo all the rules of punctuation and grammar? Exactly…


žThe easiest way to establish authority is to indicate to the audience you have experienced this. Personal stories are the easiest way to make this connection.

žTitles attached to names also establish authority: Mr.S, AP Calculus teacher, …

žPeople are going to accept authority on a topic if they know the person is an expert. Uncle Bob who works on cars at Sears is not the person to ask about rocket science—unless he has a degree in rocket science.


žBe honest with the audience. Be up front about associations with groups and people. If the audience discovers you are associating with nefarious or suspicious groups or you have ulterior motives, your credibility will be tarnished.

žYes, fb is a legitimate ethical reference. Think about your fb (if you have one) and what you have presented to people about you. Do you have any pictures or posts that could make people doubt your ethics?

Ethos-Your Turn

žYou will be given a person and several questions to answer. As you research this person, think about the ethics of this person.