A Meyers-Briggs would identify the approach to debate theory as XYZJ. Culturally this community is a super strong J (Judging) rather than P (Perceptive).
Oi. I have deep, deep skepticism against the MBTI, so I bristle at the analogy. Your point makes sense, though. And I freely admit that elegant theory is seductive. The whole Smith-Solt counterplan disposition is attractive for exactly that reason, even though my entire debate upbringing tells me you get better debates if the negative can't kick out a counterplan for any reason. Not only that, but it's been the people most stubbornly wedded to elegant theory that have resisted some really good, innovative arguments when they first appeared. But hey, different people see debate differently, which is why it's such good training for persuasive encounters later in life. MSD was warning, about two dozen posts back, against letting every judge decide it on her or his own whim, when in fact that is exactly what happens,
regardless of what conclusions we draw on a discussion board about theory.
At any rate, there was one more intermediate stage of the history of topical counterplans that I haven't mentioned, although you'd think Stoa/NCFCA debaters would've stumbled across it a zillion times or more. Right at the point where negatives were bold enough to run them, but affirmatives were still trying to win the "topical counterplans are illegitimate" argument, we had a topic so broad that both the biggest affirmatives and their opposites were viable strategies: the 1988-89 Africa topic, "Resolved, that United States foreign policy toward one or more African nations should be changed." One of the most popular affirmatives on the topic was to abolish all United States sanctions against South Africa for apartheid. Pittsburgh, however, had written an affirmative at the start of the year that actually tightened
those sanctions to make them work, so their go-to strategy against abolish sanctions was to counterplan by strengthening them.
Now, think about how this plays out: the affirmative gets rid of all sanctions, while the negative counterplans to make the sanctions stronger and more effective than before. The affirmative says "The counterplan is a change in foreign policy toward an African nation, so it's topical, so it's not legitimate." The negative, with some pretty understandable indignation, says "Come ON!!
You're banning all sanctions, and you're claiming that it's unfair to debate us on a counterplan that says increase sanctions? What do
you want to be held responsible for defending? What can
we expect that you're prepared to argue? How whiny is it possible for you to get, if we answer your plan by counterplanning to do the exact opposite and you claim that the counterplan is unfair? For Heaven's sake, grow a set and debate us!" They, and other teams, went on an unbroken streak of not just winning the theory debate, but thrashing it into a bloody pulp. And from that, they gained the boldness to start saying "Look, if our counterplan competes with the plan, then it proves the plan is a bad idea. If they chose the plan and can't defend it, then they should lose, same as if they lost to us on any other issue." And judges, with their resistance eroded by the "opposite of the plan" counterplans, went along, and a new consensus formed.
And that's when the argument first swayed me. I've voted for topical counterplans for at least twenty years, and it hasn't caused any theoretical unraveling that I'm aware of. If the counterplan proves the plan's a bad idea, then the affirmative needs to hit the library. A handful of times over the years I've decided a topical counterplan was illegitimate when the affirmative executed the argument well and the negative wasn't careful or wasn't experienced. But most affirmatives in college debate honestly don't waste 2AC time starting the argument, because for that judging pool it's virtually unwinnable unless your opponent mishandles it.