Appeals to fairness

An appeal to fairness is when writers or speakers play on our innate desire for fairness. Psychologists suggest our aversion to injustice is deeply ingrained, stemming from the important role that fairness and cooperation played in our social evolution, allowing us to thrive by forming communities.

By emphasising examples of unfairness, writers can undermine trust in people and organisations. This is especially the case when the audience feels that they are being disadvantaged, stoking feelings of anger or dissatisfaction. Appeals to fairness can also be effective because they align with the audience’s morality and their desire for issues to be resolved in a manner that is just. Arguments that point out disadvantage, discrimination, inequality or unethical behaviour may appeal to a reader’s sense of fairness.

Appeals to fairness in action

Read the following article. Identify the issue, contention, audience and tone of the piece. Identify the persuasive techniques in the piece and explain the effect the are intended to have on the audience.

Click here to download the ‘The fabric of equality: what I learned from my uncomfortable school uniform’ worksheet to help you analyse this article.

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