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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Rhetoric is a difficult book for two reasons. First, its purpose is not immediately clear because it sees argument as the heart of persuasion yet expands and contracts the meaning of argument in different contexts. The relations between argument and character, logos and ēthos, are complex. The enthymeme is the “body” of proof (pistis), yet ēthos is the most powerful means of inducing belief. Second, Aristotle shows how the art of rhetoric has its own standards, irreducible to logic, politics, or expediency, but its ability to erect its own standards is constrained or guided in three distinct dimensions: fidelity to the facts, a goal of persuading a given audience, and moral responsibility. Aristotle places deliberative rhetoric, not forensic or epideictic rhetoric, at the center of his art to make the art fit for practice by citizens, not experts.

Keywords: Aristotle, rhetoric, argument, ēthos, deliberation, judicial rhetoric, epideictic rhetoric, deliberative rhetoric, pistis, persuasion

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