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Leo Szilard: Critical Review - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Leo Szilard: Critical Review. Leo Szilard’s “A Petition to the President of the United States” is an argument against the use of the atomic bomb as a means of ending World War 11. It is written in the context of the expected Allied victory, and the deliberation of means to expedite Japan’s surrender…
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Leo Szilard: Critical Review

Download file to see previous pages... However, the petition fails to make a compelling appeal. Szilard’s argument is not persuasive, as the author does not make appropriate use of the rhetorical appeals of pathos, ethos and logos. Szilard’s argument is almost entirely devoid of pathos. This is one of the main reasons why it fails to ‘hook’ the reader. In the absence of emotional appeal, the petition remains a mere formal request to the President, which has a very ineffective, matter-of-fact tone. The reader, or the general public whose welfare it claims to consider, is not aroused to empathize with the petitioners. Szilard mentions “the possibility that the United States might be attacked by atomic bombs” (atomicarchive.com). He also goes on to point out that atomic bombs “are primarily a means for the ruthless annihilation of cities” (atomicarchive.com). However, he does not evoke fear in the reader in the first case, or compassion for the Japanese in the second instance. This can be attributed to his failure to paint a vivid picture of the casualties of nuclear warfare by using emotionally charged words. Likewise, he does not arouse any feelings of guilt, or moral indignation, when he talks of the US setting the precedent for nuclear war. A graphic account of the death and devastation which atomic bombs can unleash would have made his argument emotionally appealing, and aroused the sympathy of the reader. In contrast to the total absence of pathos, Szilard’s argument demonstrates a certain degree of ethos. Szilard establishes his credentials as an expert in his field by letting the reader know that he is a scientist who has “been working in the field of atomic science for a number of years” (atomicarchive.com). He bolsters his credibility by adopting a fair stance on the issue, and conceding that the supporters of nuclear warfare are correct in stating that the use of atomic bombs would bring about the speedy conclusion of the war. However, he fails to be totally objective, as he does not discuss the consequences of not using atomic bombs at this juncture of the war. By ignoring this point, Szilard fails to consider the issue in all its dimensions. In addition to this, Szilard does not present any credible research to support his assertions in the entire petition. The absence of scientific evidence undermines the trustworthiness of Szilard as a reputed scientist who has extensive knowledge of the subject. His claims regarding the destructive potential of atomic weapons remain unsubstantiated by hard figures. Due to these ethical lapses, Szilard’s credible status as a nuclear scientist does not conclusively persuade the reader to accept the validity of his argument. Szilard’s argument is particularly weak in terms of logic. He admits that “the war has to be brought speedily to a successful conclusion” (atomicarchive.com). He also holds on to his conclusion that the US should not resort to the use of atomic bombs. However, he does not give any alternative strategy to bring about the rapid end of the war. If the US does not resort to atomic bombs, what other options are available to ensure the immediate surrender of the Japanese? Szilard gives his reasons for avoiding atomic weapons: the increasing ruthlessness of warfare, the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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