Is "pros and cons" formal enough? Or is "advantages and disadvantages" better in an essay for uni?
donald remero [ Moderator ]
I say that "pros and cons" is formal enough -- if that is what you mean.
Pros and cons refer to reasons "for" and "against" a proposition. Advantages and disadvantages refer to the perceived consequences of either accepting a proposition as true or taking a specific course of action.
Consequently, your choice of using "pros and cons" or "advantages and disadvantages" is also a choice about your entire approach to whatever it is you are discussing. Reasons for and against can be phrased both positively and negatively. This can muddle your analysis if you are not careful about it. Thinking in terms of "reasons" probably doesn't naturally focus your thinking as sharply as thinking more specifically in terms of consequences does.
Generally speaking, outside rhetoric, speech and debate, and political science, I think it is safe to say that academics care more about about "advantages and disadvantages" than "pros and cons." For me, it is not that "pros and cons" is not formal enough in terms of diction, my real concern would be that "pros and cons" does not sufficiently focus the actual content of your analysis.
For example, "Doing it because it is right" may very well be a "pro," but without going a step further and getting to the real consequential advantages of being right, or alternatively without getting to the real consequential disadvantages of doing something wrong you are not really going to be producing meaningful "academic" essay.