An Objective Perspective: Logos, Ethos, and Juror Four
“Insufficient facts always invite danger” declared Spock to Captain Kirk as the U.S.S. Enterprise was on deep alert after discovering a sleeper cell in space with seventy-two unconscious super-humans inside (Coon, 1967). His tone cautionary, Spock expressed through this quote the necessity to base theories on logic alone for deficient facts “invite danger”. In Star Trek: Space Seed, Spock encounters a mysterious sleeper cell in space filled with unconscious super-humans dating back centuries, leading him to inspect for sufficient evidence necessary to formulate an accurate theory. Like Spock, juror four stresses to his colleagues the necessity of using sufficient logic and facts to formulate an accurate conclusion to a perplexing situation. In Twelve Angry Men, juror four’s appeals to logos and ethos illustrate the pragmatic reasoning and impartial judgement that jurors must display in the judicial process.
Exhibiting an appeal to logos, juror four relies heavily on authoritative source and deduction which illustrates his pragmatism. Explaining his rationale behind his guilty vote, juror four says, “I still believe the boy is guilty of murder. I’ll tell you why. To me, the most damning evidence was given by the woman across the street who claimed she actually saw the murder committed” (Rose, 60). Juror four appeals to logos through this statement because he deductively predicates his claim that “the boy is guilty of murder” with authoritative source and evidence from the witness’ testimony. By providing context and legitimate justification behind his guilty vote, juror four reinforces the notion that his opinion is purely grounded in pragmatic inferences and plausibility.
Similarly, juror four logically voices his skepticism about the defendant by recalling facts from the case: “The boy’s entire story is flimsy. He claimed he was at the movies. That’s a little ridiculous, isn’t it? He couldn’t even remember what pictures he saw” (Rose, 18). Juror four again utilizes an appeal to logos by deductively backing his claim that the “boy’s entire story is flimsy” with authoritative source from defendant’s testimony that stated “he couldn’t remember what pictures he saw”. Juror four’s reliance on this authoritative source as a basis for his skepticism showcases the value he places logic and sensibility when voicing his opinion. Likewise, after deliberating over new evidence from the trial that he hadn’t considered earlier, juror four states, “She did wear glasses. Funny. I never thought of it. I’m convinced” (Rose, 62). Juror four’s appeals to logos by affirming he’s “convinced” only after deliberating over a previously unconsidered authoritative source. Through this affirmation, juror four communicates that only arguments based on authoritative sources can persuade him, showcasing how rationally and sensibly he formulates his conclusions.
Juror four’s ethos, particularly his credibility and clear motives, showcase his desire for objective judgement in the case. Bothered by the contentious atmosphere in the room, juror four attempts to instill civility in the room by stating, “I don’t see any need for arguing like this. I think we ought to be able to behave like gentlemen” (Rose, 16). Through this statement, juror four constructs an appeal to ethos by establishing his clear motives through his insistence that everyone show decorum to one another “like gentlemen”. By insisting that a certain level of respectability is established for one another, juror four exposes his desire to not let the other juror’s combative attitude towards each other cloud their objectivity and judgement towards the case. Similarly, while voicing his concerns for the verdict, juror four inquires juror twelve for his opinion on the matter: “What do you think about it?” (Rose, 60). In this statement, juror four again formulates an appeal to ethos by establishing his credibility to the other jurors as someone receptive and open-minded to other’s input. By exhibiting open-mindedness, juror four establishes his clear motives that all judgment be based on deliberation and discussion rather than emotional instincts or bias. Likewise, after contemplating new evidence, juror four admits he can’t fairly justify his guilty vote anymore: “I’m sorry. There’s reasonable doubt in my mind” (Rose, 62). By exposing this change of heart, juror four appeals to ethos by illustrating his clear motive of deriving the justified verdict, rather than proving his long-standing position correct even in the face of overwhelming oppositional evidence. By establishing his clear motive of impartially reaching a verdict, juror four demonstrates his unbiased judgement and objectivity in the case.
Juror four showcases throughout the proceedings his strict adherence to pragmatism and objectivity when formulating conclusions to decide his verdict vote. This combination of logic and integrity portrays juror four as the near-perfect juror, contrasting him from the many irrational and prejudiced jurors he contemplated with throughout the proceedings. Like most of the characters in Twelve Angry Men, jurors are often unable to recognize their own biases and judgement flaws when mulling over trial evidence. A study published in the British Psychological Society’s Legal and Criminological Psychology Journal found that “pre-trial bias and jurors’ understanding of the concept of beyond reasonable doubt have a significant impact on the verdict they are likely to deliver in court” (Baksi, 2014). What this suggests is that jurors often rely on instincts and intuition to formulate their verdict rather than approaching the situation with an “innocent until proven guilty” mindset . Because of this, many cases decided by a jury are unjustly guilty of punishing innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit. Furthermore, unless jurors discipline themselves to only view cases objectively and logically like juror four, wrongful judgement will continue to persist.
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