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Leo Szilard’s Argument Essay

Even those people who do not know the details of the “Manhattan Project” have strong negative associations while focusing on the notion. The explanation to this phenomenon is in the fact that the “Manhattan Project” is the assignment developed by a group of the US scientists who worked out the atomic bomb to prevent the Nazi attacks during World War II.

However, the history of using the first American atomic bombs is associated with Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki the population of which suffered significantly from the dangerous effects of atom (Bernstein). The group of scientists who created the weapon of mass destruction tried to prevent the usage of atomic bombs with the help of providing the petition to the President.

Although the petition was developed by the head of the project Leo Szilard and signed by the scientists who participated in creating the bomb, the argument presented by Szilard cannot be discussed as effective to persuade the audience to change the decision.

In “A Petition to the President of the United States”, Szilard follows the definite structure, accentuating the introductory part and concluding statements. However, the main part of the petition does not include the factual information to support the claims presented in the introductory part.

Thus, the author uses the effective hook to draw the audience’s attention to the petition and appeal to the readers’ emotions. Szilard states, “Discoveries of which the people of the United States are not aware may affect the welfare of this nation in the near future” (Szilard).

This statement makes people continue the reading of the petition. The audience of the petition is the President of the USA. That is why, the direct appeal to the President is presented in the further sentence, “It places in your hands, as Commander-in-Chief, the fateful decision whether or not to sanction the use of such bombs in the present phase of the war against Japan” (Szilard).

The next paragraphs are expected to provide the arguments for the President to make the right decision and not to use the atomic bombs in the war against Japan. However, the body paragraphs include only vague considerations which are not supported by any evidences or data and developed only to evoke the definite emotions (Gest).

The tone of the petition can be discussed as emotional rather than convincing. The author uses general sentences in which there are a lot of words with different connotative meanings, but there is the lack of factual arguments to support the main ideas presented by Szilard. For instance, stating “We feel, however, that such an attack on Japan could not be justified in the present circumstances”, Szilard does not present any reasons why the attack on Japan cannot be justified (Szilard).

In spite of the fact the author appeals to the morality and ethical principles, there are no arguments associated with morality in the petition’s text in order to state strictly that the usage of atomic bombs is impossible or to accentuate the impossibility of the annihilation of cities and people with references to moral laws. That is why, it is necessary to note that the author uses the convincing tone ineffectively because it is based only on the emotional aspect.

To support the view on the effectiveness of Szilard’s usage of the tone which is rather unconvincing in the context of the petition and the problem discussed, it is important to pay attention to the modes of persuasion used by the author. The petition is developed by the scientists who created the atomic bombs.

That is why, it is possible to speak about the authors’ authority. Szilard uses the ethos, stating “We, the undersigned scientists, have been working in the field of atomic power for a number of years” (Szilard). From this point, the participation of the author in creating the atomic bomb can be discussed as the reason to take Szilard’s arguments into consideration and pay much attention to their discussion. Nevertheless, the author does not provide the necessary arguments to support his authoritative position in discussing the question.

However, the author concentrates on using the pathos in his text. The petition can be considered as rather emotional. Szilard is inclined to use emotionally vivid comparisons to present the idea, for instance, “a nation … may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale” (Szilard). The focus on appealing to the audience’s emotions cannot be used as the effective method to organize the petition.

The next fallacy of the argument is the lack of the factual information and data which can be used to support the author’s ideas. Szilard presents ambiguous sentences which can be interpreted not in favor of the author and contribute to developing contradictions in understanding the vision.

Moreover, providing the key ideas, Szilard does not concentrate on their support with evidences and facts to build the logical argument. For instance, the statement “atomic bombs are primarily a means for the ruthless annihilation of cities” has no any supporting facts after it (Szilard).

To conclude, Leo Szilard’s argument cannot be discussed as successful because it has weaknesses in structure, and the tone of the author is not convincing. Furthermore, the modes of persuasion are not used effectively to make the audience change the view. The text lacks the logical arguments and factual information to make the petition credible and persuasive.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Barton. “An Analysis of “Two Cultures”: Writing about the Making and the Using of the Atomic Bombs”. The Public Historian 12.1 (1990): 83-107. Print.

Gest, Howard. The July 1945 Szilard Petition on the Atomic Bomb. n.d. Web.

Szilard, Leo. A Petition to the President of the United States (July 3, 1945). n.d. Web. <>.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Leo Szilard’s Argument'. 1 July.

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