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Ethics in Advertising Essay

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Aristotle's Rhetoric outlines the three main purposes of rhetoric as political, legal, and ceremonial. Persuasion is the main point of all three of the main venues for rhetoric. Rhetoric “may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion” (Aristotle 22). Rhetoric can also be seen as a primer to explain the methods of persuasion used in modern-day commercials and advertisements. While the classic methods of effecting persuasion are pertinent to our understanding of how different forms of advertising work, there are also a host of modern day techniques that have changed the landscape of rhetoric. Namely, what has changed is three-fold. First, modern-day advertising has a much more visual delivery. Second, traditional oratory is rarely used in modern day commercials. Finally, there is a departure from what Aristotle would say is ethical within the rhetoric of the modern day. Advertising is attempting to sell you something. Unlike in the time of Aristotle, we live in a capitalist society where most rhetorical methodology is designed to produce a specific action from the audience to purchase an item, not simply to win an argument. The duty of oratory has changed from the Aristotelian definition. We can then ask, what can we learn from the rhetorical devices of Aristotle in responding to today's advertisements and commercials?
However broad these changes may seem to the modern day audience, it is important to
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show how the classical methodology of effecting persuasion is relevant today. Aristotle states the three means of effecting persuasion are “ (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human
character and goodness in various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions...” (25). The concepts of logos, pathos, and ethos are still applicable to understanding the methods advertisers use today.
In Corbett and Connor's Rhetoric for the Modern Student, they offer an analysis of a magazine ad as representing the best of...

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