Logos in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

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Name:_____________________________________________ Date:__________________________ Period:_______
Logos in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
In this lesson, you will study two paragraphs from Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” These are
paragraphs in which he employs logos or logical appeals to convince his audience that his actions are moral and
correct. You will identify King’s concession and counterargument or refutation. You will also find examples of
King’s use of reliance on authority and facts as evidence. You should use your class notes on appeals for help.
LITERARY TERMS:
Concession: conceding a point in an argument means actually agreeing with the opponent on a particular
issue. This is not done as a sign of weakness, however, but in order to strengthen ethos or ethical appeal
because the author comes across as a reasonable person who is willing to see more than one side of the
argument. You admit that the opposing claim is valid; however, you demonstrate how it is possible to
accept it without rejecting your whole argument.
Counterargument or Refutation: deliberately, directly attacking an opponent’s argument, point by point.
Directions: Answer the following questions in complete sentences. Your answers must be thoughtful and
thorough to receive full credit.
PASSAGE YOU WILL ANALYZE:
Kings logical appeal can be found in the section that begins: “You express a great deal of anxiety over our
willingness to break laws” (King 746)
And ends with the sentence: “Hence segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, it
is morally wrong and sinful” (King 747).
1. Which sentences in King’s letter make up his concession? (Hint: where does he mention his opponents’ point of
view?”) Write them below make sure to cite your quote correctly.
2. Which sentences in King’s letter make up his counterargument or refutation? Write them below make sure to cite
your quote correctly.
3. Reliance on Authority: Correctly cite the quotes that show King’s reliance on St. Augustine and St. Thomas
Aquinas.
St. Augustine:
St. Thomas Aquinas:
4. Explain why King would use these two men (St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas) as references. Explain their
importance to his argument.
King argues that two types of law exist: just and unjust. He further states that he absolutely believes in
obedience to just laws.
5. Cite two laws which to you seem just, and explain (for each) why you think they are just.
Just law:
Explanation:
Just law:
Explanation:
6. Now cite two laws which you think are unjust and explain why you think they are unjust.
Unjust law:
Explanation:
Unjust law:
Explanation: