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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

An analysis of an argument


This overview explains the language techniques used by, Dawson, the author to persuade the reader of her position.

Dawson firstly takes a stance against UBI by introducing weakened arguments for it that can be easily undermined. She offers evidence based on cost and perceived philosophical grounds. However she refutes the cost argument. By appealing to paranoia, and using sarcasm and emotive vocabulary, she also undermines the philosophical stance.

Dawson then switches focus, introducing the notion of welfare and fair taxation. She casts this as a positive, being the opposite of a UBI based on the size of government and extent of privatisation.

Dawson then selects a criticism against the UBI that can also be refuted and reframes these to support her criticism for the UBI.

Dawson works under the assumption that her proposed taxation/welfare system is a compromise position between having or not having UBI.

She is exploiting the argumentative device of the “Middle Ground” where one assumes “because two opposing arguments have merit, the answer must lie somewhere between them” (McCandless 2012).

Between the debunked strengths of UBI and the debunked criticisms of UBI, Dawson concludes that the answer is her proposed tax/welfare reform. She manages to achieve this with minimum to no discussion of the proposal itself at all. She has implemented a bait and switch technique by arguing another matter and introducing the true claim at the last minute.

In the following activity, choose the correct phrase or word to fill the gap. Read the whole sentence to check the language technique being used.

McCandless D (2012) Rhetological Fallacies: A visualisation of errors and manipulations of rhetoric and logical thinking, Information is Beautiful website, accessed 30 September 2022.


Select the correct answer from the available options.
Language technique: Ridicule
1) First, there is the issue of ________ : high-income earners would receive a payment only to return it, and more, in increased income tax.
Emotive language
2) Third, a UBI ________. It completely ignores the value of work beyond earning an income. Too often progressive advocates of the UBI fall into the trap of believing, as many conservatives do, that people don't want to work.
Emotive language
3) The fact is, work is ________ to people's sense of identity. We are inherently wired to want to create, to contribute, to make something of our lives.
4) A far better solution to inequality is to build on the Australian tradition of providing universal services and ________ of health, education and social services, reversing privatisation and for-profit provision of essential services...
5) So let's do this, and ________ about paying money that we can't afford to everyone.