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TOPICALITY James Stevenson, with due credit to Mike Hester.

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1 TOPICALITY James Stevenson, with due credit to Mike Hester

2 What is topicality? Think of the topic like a circle—topical, relevant cases fall within this circle, and all other possible cases lie outside it. Debate is cool because, unlike any other game, part of the competition involves deciding how big that circle should be—the fundamental rule, the basis of discussion for the round, is completely up for debate.

3 The Ingredients of a T debate The resolution: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth's mesosphere. The plan The negative’s interpretation of the resolution and explanation of how the plan violates this interp Reasons why the judge should prefer the neg interp and why this is a voting issue

4 Topicality is like every other argument. All debate arguments are composed of two basic components—a link and an impact. An aff advantage describes a symptom of the status quo (link) and the impact to that. A DA has a link to the aff and an impact. Topicality is exactly the same. Your ‘link’ is the way the affirmative violates your interpretation, and the ‘impact’ are the reasons why failing to meet your interp is a voting issue.

5 How to run T Remember the basic ingredients The shell: Interpretation—supported by definitions Violation Standards (A.K.A. reasons to prefer) Voting issues

6 Interpretation & violation Define terms in the resolution in a way that doesn’t include the aff plan Evidence is key Explain in a sentence why the aff doesn’t meet this

7 Standards The heart of the T debate—why your interpretation of the resolution should be treated as the correct one Internal links between your interpretation/violation and either fairness or education What does your interp do compared to the aff’s? Why is the aff not a relevant or fair aff to be discussing? General standards: Limits Predictability Ground Education (topical)

8 Voting issues The key to winning any arg is impact explanation—why it matters. T is no different. Two voting issues: fairness and education. Jurisdiction is not a voting issue.

9 Effects and extra-topicality Independent voting issues—reliant on winning your interp Effectual topicality: the plan isn’t within the resolution, but causes topical action. Unpredictable—neg can’t possibly prepare for everything that causes the topic Ground division—steals generic neg args. Extra topicality: the plan includes topical action—but also includes action outside of the topic. Unpredictable—see above, but moreso Topic education—diverts focus away from the res—nullifies the educational value of the topic

10 This is what a topicality shell looks like

11 Framework How do we evaluate topicality? Competing interpretations: This is what the neg likes—probably most intuitive Neg interp’s costs and benefits vs. aff interp’s costs and benefits Causes “race to the bottom”—the neg just has to find a slightly more limiting interp Reasonability This is what the aff likes—makes it much easier to avoid losing on T Who cares about the neg—is the aff interp reasonable enough? Arbitrary—how much ground is ‘enough’?

12 Advanced T tricks BLOCKS! Lots of good cards Topical version of the aff Explain/read a caselist Effects/extra T

13 AFF: Answering T We meet: answering the violation Counter-interpretation: what is a better way to look at the topic (that the aff meets) The standards debate: why is the aff interpretation better than the neg’s? Read new standards and try to answer the neg’s. Answer the voting issues (impact defense): don’t vote on potential abuse Reasonability

14 Topicality questions on the topic Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth's mesosphere. “Exploration” – WTF does that mean “Development” – see above “beyond the Earth’s mesosphere” – from which side? Which mesosphere? “its” – inclusive of private companies?


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