The Modes of Persuasion

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When we talk about reviving the spirit of a learning society and expanding the IFoA’s influence in Thought Leadership, I think it is helpful to think about four Greek words that can help us engage with our stakeholders and respond to the context and timing of change.

LOGOS concerns our logical argument and analysis.

ETHOS is about establishing our trustworthiness to speak on the subject.

PATHOS is our effort to engage our audience emotionally. 

By virtue of our quintessential values, actuaries tend to emphasise LOGOS. However, if we are to broaden our influence, we need to make sure we are strong in all three areas. I am convinced that the innate quality of our thinking and expertise remains high, but we have to be smarter and more imaginative in establishing our ETHOS and effecting our PATHOS. Those actuaries who played such a pivotal role in coordinating the response to COVID-19 encapsulate this quality well.

KAIROS, meanwhile, refers to the time when the conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action: the opportune and decisive moment. Should we wait, or is time of the essence? And at what pace should we proceed?

Substance without engagement is inconsequential, while engagement without substance is vacuous. Timing, patience and creating contexts are the key ingredients of effective change and transformation.

In my presidential update, I called for 2021 to be our Year of Transformation. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is an opportune and decisive inflection point for the IFoA and the profession to respond to the uncertainties and systemic challenges that engulf us.

Now is the time – and we are ready for it, or we never will be. 

In the February issue of The Actuary Magazine, I discussed how actuaries can work for the public interest in a time of technological and societal upheaval. Read the article “A CALL TO ACTION”.



The Modes of Persuasion-Aristotle’s Rhetoric & Kairos illustrated by Kok Tien Nee

Rapp, Christof, “Aristotle’s Rhetoric”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL=

Kinneavy, James L., and Catherine R. Eskin. “Kairos in Aristotle’s Rhetoric.” Written Communication 11.1 (1994): 131–42. Print.