The threat of Ebola has been something covered in great detail in the news recently, and in an editorial the rights and responsibilities that physicians and the public have towards each other with regards to the spread of the virus. The overall claim of the article is that those who are at risk of spreading Ebola have the responsibility to quarantine themselves to help not only protect others, but also to reassure the public. The article argues that there is no need for Dr. Bucks to remain in quarantine medically or scientifically but he is doing it to “triple-check” and more as a measure of reassurance. The overall conclusion of the article is that rights have now become more important than responsibilities and it is leading to larger societal problems than Ebola. This has strong implications for business administration because it suggests that we need to learn to focus on social responsibilities as well as human rights.

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During the course of this editorial piece, the author uses ethos, pathos and logos. Ethos is defined as the use of character and authority to make an argument, which may be a celebrity endorsement or the use of an authority figure to support a claim (Blakesley & Hoogeveen, 18). Throughout the editorial, there are several quotes used from Dr. Colin Bucks, a medical doctor that acts as an authority figure to reinforce the idea that social responsibility is important. The quote that the doctor is “happy to go the extra mile if that’s what’s necessary” (The Sacramento Bee, web) reinforces the idea that sometimes we have to do things that are uncomfortable (in this case, quarantine) or even unnecessary to make other people feel better. The author seems to be suggesting that life is not necessarily about making things easy, but in acting in a socially responsible manner, and is using a doctor as an authority figure to help strengthen this claim. This is interesting because it is using an authority figure that is not necessarily directly related to the concept of social responsibility, but still works to strengthen the argument.

The use of pathos is also important in many editorial pieces. To support an argument, a writer can use emotional words based around fear or sympathy or anger (for example) to strengthen the claim (Blakesley & Hoogeveen, 18). This type of argument is usually a way of making people feel emotionally attached to the argument and therefore more likely to buy into the claim. In the case of the article from The Sacramento Bee, there are several claims based around the idea of gratitude. The author mentions that she wants to give those who are working to prevent the spread of Ebola a “round of applause” (The Sacramento Bee, web). We also feel gratitude towards the doctor as he is isolating himself in his home as a method of preventing the spread of this deadly disease. The reader is buying into the argument because pathos is making us feel as though we should be grateful to those who work to protect us.

There are further uses of pathos in that there are some phrases that seem to imply we should feel guilt. The phrase “when did tights become the talk of this home-alone nation, as opposed to responsibilities” (The Sacramento Bee, web) is designed to make us feel guilty about our own lack of social responsibility and to really re-evaluate our actions. Again, the claim made by the writer is not directly related to Ebola itself, and is more of a criticism of society. In business administration, for example, many businesses eschew their social responsibilities in favor of making profits, and this is exactly the type of thing that the article wants the reader to feel guilty about. The question of when “when did giving a little become so novel that the merest compromise made you want to applaud it?” again reinforces the idea that we should feel more socially responsible and the writer appeals to pathos to make us feel guilty and responsible for our own actions.

A final technique that is often used within editorial pieces such as this is logos. Put simply, logos is the use of logical ideas to support an argument (Blakesley & Hoogeveen, 18). It can also be the appeal to facts and figures to support a theory. Throughout the article, there are several facts and some name-dropping of famous Ebola cases throughout the world to help support the idea that we should all be a little more socially responsible. There are mentions of the “fresh case of Ebola…in New York City”, “Kaci Hickox” (an Ebola nurse) and the “conservative governors of New Jersey and Maine” that isolated her (The Sacramento Bee, web). These cases are all factual examples of how Ebola can be used to help us question our own social responsibilities and times when things have gone wrong due to a lack of them. In contrast, there are very few facts about the disease itself, which is because the point the author is trying to make is a social one, not a medical one. There is no need to use rhetoric techniques to prove a point that is not being made.

In conclusion, the article from The Sacramento Bee makes several strong arguments throughout the editorial that appeal to pathos, logos and ethos to make the claim. It becomes clear that the writer is using Ebola as an example to make a claim that society has many problems because many people overlook their social responsibility. The writer uses pathos to make us feel guilty about our own choices, and to help us think about how important charitable actions are. The writer uses logos by referencing several famous cases in which social responsibilities have been eschewed with respect to Ebola. The writer also uses the ethos of Dr. Colin Bucks to cement the claim, using him as an authority figure to promote social change.

  • Blakesley, David, and Jeffrey Hoogeveen. Writing: A Manual for the Digital Age, Brief. Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
  • ‘Rights, Responsibility and Reassurance on Ebola’. The Sacramento Bee. N.p., 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 3 Nov. 2014.