Monday, January 16, 2006

Greetings and Salutations!

This is the web journal for the University of Wyoming course, COJO 4150: Legal Communication. Here we will post lecture notes, links to relevant articles, and commentary about rhetorical theory and its application to legal communication.

The syllabus for the course can be found here on the COJO department syllabi page.

The readings for the first two weeks include the following:

Aristotle's Rhetoric (alternate site here)

This commentary on Aristotle is very helpful.

Introduction to rhetorical theory and criticism:
What is Rhetoric?
General Rhetorical Strategies
Content and Form
The Rhetorical Situation

Legal Rhetoric

My next post will be a version of last Thursday's lecture notes.


Blogger Mark Overman said...

Do you really think that logos is more important than ethos and pathos like Aristotle? I think that Aristotle is ignorant of the truth, he would like to believe that we use logic instead of our emotions, but it simply isn't true. Just look at all the things we do that make no sense fall in love, go to war, kill, rape, racism etc. etc. etc. I believe humans are emotional creatures and we let our emotions blind us at times and therefore I believe that pathos is more persuasive than logos. Just look at Nazi Germany, Hitler was very persuasive and he played to the emotions of the peopl, because logoically there is no explanation for what they did.

Mark Overman

8:17 PM  
Blogger matt said...


Very good comments about emotions and their role in motivating human action.

My interpretation of Aristotle is that Ethos (credibility), Pathos (emotions), and Logos (logic) are all equally important in a good speaker. Is there a passage in _The Rhetoric_ that you might think indicates otherwise?


10:02 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

I agree with Mark. Humans are very emotional people. I am for one, base a lot of my everyday life on emotions. it might not get me very far sometimes, but it's a lot easier to get your point across if you show your emotions i.e anger, sadness, frustration.
It does amaze me that Aristotle could pin point how we act so long ago, and the fact that humans haven't really changed that much over the thousands of years.
Holly Condict

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since it is impossible to know all we must use rhetoric in order to gain information. A good example is a parent drilling their child about what they did the previous night in order to gain more info. IF we were all knowing this kind of persuasion would not be necessary.
Ed Dreyer

10:43 AM  
Blogger Ashley Colgan said...

I agree with Holly that we are very emotional beings, and that can be seen very easily when you look at trials in a courtroom or everyday decisions. A persuasive speaker, like Johnnie Cochran, was able to convince a jury, in spite of hard evidence, that O.J. Simpson was not guilty because of a racist cop. He used the emotions of the mostly African American jury to prove his case. I think that very well proves that emotions are very important in persuasion, but don't discount the logic Cochran had to use when he used the cop as a scapegoat for O.J.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to respond to one of the questions posted on our blog site relating to whether it is possible for a jury to report a verdict with certainty. My reply would be no. This is becaise we are not and will never be all knowing. If we were there would be no need for rhetorical speech in a courtroom we would simply know the verdict.
Ed Dreyer

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does truth triumph over untruth? In most cases I believe truth does triumph over untruth. When you lie you always have to be aware of the lie you made creating more problems down the road that could have been avoide if you had just told the truth in the first place. If you do get caught in a lie you then wreck your credibility or logos in the future.
Ed Dreyer

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think lawyers have a negative image in the minds of many because they are suppose to interpet the law but they often interpet the law in a way that allows guilty people to go free. I know these actions affect how I view lawyers
Ed Dreyer

9:14 AM  
Blogger Ashley Colgan said...

In response to anonymous, I think that lawyers do spend much of their time interpreting the law, however, that is their job. I think that if the lawyers did not do this service to their clients, then they are not doing what they are getting paid for. I do believe that because they interpret the law in favor of their client, that they do hurt their credibility, which is why jury's may have a hard time with verdicts. But, reasonable people should be able to read between the lines of the defense and prosecution, otherwise I do not think they should be allowed as a juror.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I think that letting the guilty go free is defense attorneys and an law student once told me that the job of a defense attorney is to make sure the prosecuters do thier job. So the negative mind set should not be on the attorney by letting the guilty go free but for not doing jsutice to our legal system and uncovering the truth.

7:01 PM  

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