Ethos is when an argument is constructed based on the ethics or credibility of the person making the argument.
Ethos is in contrast to pathos (appealing to emotions) and logos (appealing to logic or reason). Many advertisements and political speeches make use of ethos, attempting to convince readers or listeners of the credibility of the candidate-or of someone in the advertisement.
A commercial about a specific brand of toothpaste says that 4 out of 5 dentists use it.
A political candidate talks about his experiences as a soldier, as a businessman, and as a politician-in contrast to his opponent.
At a meeting about new standards in education, the featured speaker is a college professor, who argues for the new standards.
Expert witnesses in a trial are an example of ethos-the insinuation is that a psychiatrist's opinion about a person's state of mind should carry more weight with a jury, or that a forensic scientist should be able to interpret evidence better than the jury.
A makeup commercial features beautiful, famous women, who use this makeup-appealing to the viewer because if these women use it, it must be a good product.
Literary Terms Examples