Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Investigating Ethos and Pathos in Scientific Truth Claims in Public Discourse

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Abstract:  The article seeks to explore the role played by the rhetorical modes of ethos and pathos when scientific knowledge is constructed in public discourse. A case study is presented on the public debate in Germany on possible risks to bees from neonicotinoid pesticides, focusing especially on a detailed analysis of scientific knowledge claims found in texts produced by two lobbying groups involved. The findings indicate distinctive rhetorical patterns in the context of scientific truth claims realising, for example, appeals to concern and the display of scientific competence and integrity.

Keywords:  ethos; linguistics; pathos; public discourse; rhetoric; scientific knowledge; truth claims


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© Niklas Simon. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.