Dealing with the ideas of rhetorical theory is a rather interesting subject of studying, especially if we take into consideration the fact that the proper use of this theory and practical skills it gives helps people get benefit or to persuade other people. This science presupposes finding unknown meanings of some symbols and using them to indicate the phenomena they actually do not indicate, as well as to learn how to use speech in order to make other people agree with you in this or that point. So, the aim of this essay is to examine the essence of the rhetorical theory, its methods used by the author of the plenty of animal-defending works Tom Regan in one of his works concerning the relations between religion and animal rights defense. We are also going to examine the results it gives to its user. Another point of this work is to critically assess the efficiency of the rhetorical theory, its theoretical and practical usefulness.
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In order to avoid any kind of ambiguity in this essay, I think it is necessary to define the terms we are going to operate with in this work. Firstly, let us find out what the rhetoric is. Rhetoric is the persuasive communication which aims at making your opponent takes your side in the argument by means of language units’ use. The famous Ancient Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle stated that the science of rhetoric is in the speaker’s ability to persuade his/her listeners (Sigalas, 2008).
In the work we are dealing with in this essay the use of rhetoric methods and techniques is evident due to several reasons. First of all, the author needs to attract the attention of as many people as possible to the issue of animal rights defense because this issue is really burning nowadays. Secondly, the author, well-known American biologist and animal rights defender Tom Regan, wants not only to attract attention but, what is most important, to give an impact for the society to start taking some measures to fight the issue. These factors make the use of rhetorical means necessary but, at the same time, a bit strange. Let us analyze the work by Tom Regan from the rhetorical point of view in order to see all the advantages and drawbacks caused by the use of certain rhetorical means.
The intended audience of the work is the whole mankind, speaking generally, that is why Regan tries to use expressive examples describing vividly the cruelty towards animals thus trying to make people feel sorry about their deeds (Regan, 2001). These means are predetermined by the context in which the situation develops – people keep talking but the real situation does not change really. The purpose of the work is namely in an attempt to change the state of things, if not drastically then at least to be the starting point of the fundamental change. The use of rhetorical techniques is rather peculiar in the work by Tom Regan as in the work of this kind they seem to be somewhat alien and used not absolutely properly. Regan uses all the most common and effective of them thus resorting to such a means of persuasion as “The Rhetoric Triangle”. This technique presupposes the harmony of three major components making a speech confident and reliable. These components are:
- ethos (Greek) – ethical appeals of the writer which consist in the way he or she addresses the reader, the way he respects or disrespects his/her opponents. In this relation Regan’s work does n ot look convincing enough as he treats his opponents politely but talks about them not friendly and with a seeming tint of hostility and anger.
- pathos – emotional appeals of the author to the reader. This is the point the author succeded greatly at. The appeals to the reader are emotional, showing the author’s pain about the violation of animal rules. Regan gives examples from his personal experience, makes references to the historic events and figures such as Rene Descartes (Regan, 2001).
- logos – logical appeals of the author. This point includes the factual basis of the work, the choice of the most suitable sources, their relevance and the whole text organization). This is another point of the work under consideration which rises no arguments. The author provide a large amount of facts illustrating the situation with the animal rights in the world, he chooses only the most relevant and reliable information. Regan addresses the works and ideas of the prominent world’s philosophers and theologians who addressed the issue of equality of all creatures on Earth. The ideas of Aristotle (“Animals and Slavery”), Descartes and other scientists present considerable interest to all concerned and Tom Regan, as a master of clear fact telling and argumentation, uses them to bring the problem in the spotlight of social attention (Regan, 2001).
All this, advantages given by the use of the rhetoric techniques by the author and the mistakes he committed while applying this or that means, like ethical and emotional appeals to the reader, constitute the work which is considered to be the best one of all Regan’s works. Here Tom Regan managed to form a clear view of what is happening to animals on Earth, he coped with the task of attracting people’s attention towards the problem and made it a public concern. But on the other hand, improper use of ethical, and especially emotional, appeals creates the tension between the animal rights defenders and their opponents, this is why the work, being a great piece of scientific research, still leaves some points that need to be improved in order not to rise any offensive comments from the opponents’ side (Regan, 2001).
Regan, Tom. Defending Animal Rights. The University of Illinois Press. 2001.
Regan, Tom. Religion and Animal Rights. The University of Illinois Press. 2001.
Sigalas, Joseph. Writing Resources: The Rhetorical Triangle. 2008. UGA Writing Center. 2008. Web.