Since Blumner was the former director, go to the Florida chapter of the ACLU
website and look at what kinds of positions they take, what values they express,
and what arguments they make. With that knowledge, evaluate her credibility or
what Aristotle called ethos. Then describe an audience who you think would have
an opinion different than yours and why you believe they would have a different
opinion (e.g., if her affiliation with the ACLU impressed you, who do you think
would feel suspicious toward her because of this affiliation, or vice versa). While
one might argue that facts and reasons are a more sound basis for arguments than
emotions, in fact, both emotional appeals and factual appeals can be fallacious
(manipulative and logically unsound). Thus the persuasiveness of either a factual
or an emotional appeal is utterly dependent on whether we trust the source of that
appeal. Is the author/speaker being fair with us? Is he or she being honest? Is his
or her perspective wise? Aristotle understood this and thus argued that one has to
establish one’s credibility or ethos in an argument (this is also referred to as an
ethical appeal). We judge people’s ethos in many ways including by how well they
craft their arguments, but we also are often suspicious of people who too
effectively craft their arguments. This is why we may distrust clever lawyers or
slick politicians. If we are not already familiar with an author on what basis can we
judge him or her? In fact, most people judge a source’s credibility on whether they
identify with the author or speaker. Philosopher Kenneth Burke called this
consubstantiality. Is he or she like us? Does she or he share our values? For better
or worse, this often leads to judging people based on the groups they belong to and
the prejudices we have developed regarding those groups. For example, are they
Republican or Democrat? Pro-business or proenvironment (or pro-growth or antigrowth)?
Or my least favorite, right or left?
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