King's Argument in "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" Analytical Essay by Nicky

A rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail".
# 150840 | 1,204 words | 0 sources | 2012 | US
Published on Apr 26, 2012 in Literature (American) , African-American Studies (Historical Figures)

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The paper analyzes how Martin Luther King in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" develops the concept of distinguishing just laws from unjust law using the logical technique of direct comparison and an element of both pathos and ethos. The paper examines how King justifies the logic of his thesis that unjust laws justify civil disobedience and non-violent defiance.

From the Paper:

"In this argument, Dr. King uses the logical technique of direct comparison, although he also adds an element of both pathos and ethos in doing so. The logical argument is the direct comparison by example that formal laws can be distinctly immoral and that the concept of morality and concern for fellow human beings is more important to uphold than unjust laws. The emotional component (pathos) of the appeal is the natural comparison implied between the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany and the current circumstances of the African American subject to unjust laws and discrimination in the U.S. The credibility or character element of the appeal (ethos) is implied by the suggestion that the author is a man of objective moral concern who would sympathize equally with any minority group being persecuted or denied their rights under unjust laws. The author's objective in this regard is to establish that his passion is for justice in principle more so than for the interests of the one minority group of which he is a part.
"The author anticipates counterarguments to his thesis in the form of the characterization of moral justification of the specific law the violation of which was the basis of his arrest. This also introduces the logical principle that laws can be patently unjust on their face (such as outright segregation laws) or unjust merely in their unjust application to further immoral objectives."

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