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 Post subject: Topicality
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:08 pm 
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I'm on an iPod so I'm not going to write out an exhaustive post, but topicality needs to be considered a LOT more important to many of you.

1. Not taking topicality as a serious argument means that teams are okay with running ridiculous cases like IPCC or Agenda 21

2. Not running topicality or running it well (read: minimum three minute press) means that judges ALSO begin to view as a secondary or unimportant issue

3. Because topicality is cut and dry (at least once FW is agreed upon), it is a BETTER argument than one dealing with policy analysis, because policy is more subjective

4. Topicality is more fun and intelligent than most of you realize

5. Fiat is linked to topicality; don't compartmentalize the two

6. If you consider topicality to be a priori and understand it to be the ability an aff has to pitch a case or not (i.e. topical cases are allowed, nontopical cases are not) then you shouldn't be glossing over it and letting a team use authority that they don't have; it would the equivalent of a candidate in a political debate ignoring the question and making an irrelevant point and then his opponent responding by beating his irrelevant point instead of addressing its irrelevancy--SUPER silly


That's all for now. I'll expand the points and add on points when I have a computer.

Feel free to respond, because I'll defend my points.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:48 pm 
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I definetly agree 100% with this post. I think that this post is somewhat talking about my position a little bit, so please do not misunderstand me: I am not trivializing or downplaying topicality. I was simply stating that from a strategic standpoint, it might be wiser to go with more relateable/winning points of argumentation that mom/novice/community judges will agree with and listen to better.

But by all means I strongly agree. It is quite unfortunate that in team policy (and especially in California) Topicality has been margianilized into being a cop-out argument by a few Negatives or an argument that the judge immediately switches off their ears once the word is spoken in a round. Topicality needs to be taken seriously again in the Stoa league and in NCFCA.

Excellent point on fiat and topicality. The two concepts are intertwined, so if you run a fiat press, you might consider running a T-press as well.

In the specific instance of the IPCC, there are so many meaty and convincing arguments against the case that I simply suggested you would hold off on T. Besides, where does one draw the topicality line? The standard is very blurred and vague, and even if a good Negative brings up a compelling T press against IPCC or Agenda 21, it doesn't matter AT ALL to newer judges whatsoever unless the T press is delivered in a winsome, easy-to-understand manner (which many Negs confound the issue rather than clear things up).

By all means, if you have a clear T press against IPCC, Agenda 21, or any other case, then USE IT. But please bear in mind who your audience, and most importantly, your judge is.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:22 pm 
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The big thing is that those debate moms judging your rounds probably want to hear about the policy and not some technical debate argument.

IF the case is "in the ballpark" I think you have a hard time getting around the idea that it sounds like they are talking about the subject matter.

Don't get me wrong I love topicality arguments and have taught kids to win with them but it is also hard to convince judges that you really mean what you are saying, if you really meant it when your 3 or 4 minute T press was over you would sit down because after all you don't think we should be having the debate....right.

My philosophy was, as long as there is nothing out of left field crazy, if you have something else that is on point and you think you can win go on point, it's the same philosophy with generics if you can refute point for point that is always better and cleaner. Now if there is obvious abuse run T, if you don't have enough stuff on point run T, if you think your T is stronger than your on point stuff run T, also know your audience if this is a first time debate mom judge stay on point if you can, if you get me as a judge run the T but you better know what you are doing and run it right.


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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:31 pm 
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I know Topicality is extremely important as an argument, but I don't use it as often as I should because I've found it's harder to impact for a mom judge. My mom, for example, doesn't get the point of topicality arguments. She would much prefer to see policy arguments instead because topicality looks a bit like a "This is unexpected... I have to stall for time!" kind of thing. I know it isn't like that, but it's hard making judges understand how important it is. Unless the case is obviously untopical to the judge(in which case it would be awkward if I didn't run T), I don't run it that often.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:07 pm 
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Kare brings up another point it does seem like you might be doing the "this is not fair...I'm not prepared" thing when you run topicality. Then to my other point that seems a little disingenuous when you proceed to make an three significance arguments, an inherency argument, shell out 5 Disads and let the judge know you ran out of time but your partner will finish fleshing out the disads in the 2NC. It was obviously close enough to being topical that you prepared some other arguments, so the judge is left to wonder why you have all these arguments for a case that was not even on topic.


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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:57 am 
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Kare wrote:
I know Topicality is extremely important as an argument, but I don't use it as often as I should because I've found it's harder to impact for a mom judge.


All you have to do is explain why topicality is a stock issue. It would even be best to not say "topicality." All you have to do is explain what the affirmative team must affirm, and why. Unless you have to, it would be best to never name the stock issues, anyways. maybe if you run stock issues as an argument in and of itself, but it makes the round simpler for the judge to ignore the term, "stock issue." They will understand you much better if you simply explain the logic behind the stock issue that you are addressing. If a stock issue is mentioned, it would be best just to explain it so the judge understands it, anyways.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:01 am 
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Ryan Tähtinen wrote:
All you have to do is explain why topicality is a stock issue. It would even be best to not say "topicality." All you have to do is explain what the affirmative team must affirm, and why. Unless you have to, it would be best to never name the stock issues, anyways. maybe if you run stock issues as an argument in and of itself, but it makes the round simpler for the judge to ignore the term, "stock issue." They will understand you much better if you simply explain the logic behind the stock issue that you are addressing. If a stock issue is mentioned, it would be best just to explain it so the judge understands it, anyways.


Hello Mr. Tähtinen! Welcome to HSD :)

I tend to agree with the sentiments Ryan stated, although it depends from round to round. Make sure you thoroughly explain what the argument means, signpost it well, and then use the technical term for it. This has helped me out immensly in rounds.

One time at a round robin during Russia year, my partner and I were discussing the World Trade Organization (WTO) in our argumentation. But we never said what the acronym WTO actually stood for. The judge was completely lost, and even though we most likely should have won by a debater's viewpoint, the judge gave us the loss because we were not clear. So make sure to appeal to any type of judge you may have, whether novice or experienced, by telling what the technical term actually means before or very soon after you say the technical term in the round. As a wise man once put it, "it's not necessarily what you say, but how you say it."

This idea has helped me even in Lincoln Douglas debate. Instead of just saying, "My value is Happiness" (which is NOT my value in case any LD'er is reading this, lol) I would say something like "Now that we have looked at the clarifying definitions for today's round, let's look at the highest goal or standard we should acheive, and that is my value of Happiness."

So, especially when handling the unfortunately villified stock issue of topicality, be very clear and communicate what you mean AND use the technical debate term. I would fervently advise to not just use the technicalities or the simplicities alone. They go together.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:31 am 
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Ryan Tähtinen wrote:
All you have to do is explain why topicality is a stock issue. It would even be best to not say "topicality." All you have to do is explain what the affirmative team must affirm, and why. Unless you have to, it would be best to never name the stock issues, anyways. maybe if you run stock issues as an argument in and of itself, but it makes the round simpler for the judge to ignore the term, "stock issue." They will understand you much better if you simply explain the logic behind the stock issue that you are addressing. If a stock issue is mentioned, it would be best just to explain it so the judge understands it, anyways.
However, it's more convenient to refer to that part of the debate as "topicality" than as "the debate about whether the plan affirms the resolution".

But I agree that it's unnecessary to tell the judge that topicality is a stock issue because that label doesn't contribute to the reason why topicality matters, which is that there must be a limit on what affs can run in order for the activity to remain stable, and the resolution is the de jure standard available to everyone in the activity.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:40 am 
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topicality, like any argument, need not always be run even in cases where it could win the round. so drew, i partially disagree with your 1st and 2nd points, because although i think T needs to be run well when run, not running it doesn't mean that you don't agree with it, or that judges will see it as unimportant. you only have 16 minutes of constructive speeches, and when you have a lot of arguments against a particular case, you oftentimes have to discard good arguments. does that mean you don't think the case is [off topic, not solvent, disadvantageous, etc.]? no, it just means that you chose to run other, equally valid arguments for strategic reasons. you should always consider your arguments in light of the judge, e.g. super-conservative judges won't like source indicts on heritage, even if the source indict is justified and backed up. T, even if run well, is not always the best choice for certain judges, usually community judges. and finally, i often don't run T because i have other arguments that i find more engaging, interesting, and fun. so even against cases where i could win with T, i sometimes choose not to for strategic reasons and because i don't enjoy running it as much as other arguments.

one more thing, on the subject of how to run T well, i've always maintained that the best way to make T accessible is with analogies. sports are an easy pick because there's boundaries and penalties, and even if aff [makes the basket, scores the goal, catches the TD pass] out of bounds, it doesn't count. and just like sports would be pointless without rules, debate would be pointless without a resolution.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:18 am 
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In my experience, community judges are surprisingly receptive to well articulated T arguments; perhaps because they don't have any preconceived notions about how "petty" or "confusing" T is.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:17 am 
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^^ This. It's the parent judges you have to watch out for; they've seen enough "real" arguments that they think it's a "fake" one somehow.

At times like this it's useful to recall the wisdom of Dr. Srader:
DrSraderNCU wrote:
A teammate of mine who won the National Debate Tournament went to law school (and is now vice president of a major oil company, heading up its legal services branch) and said he wished he'd had more topicality debates, since legal argument was about 99% topicality.
In my experience, the key to winning topicality with lay/parent judges - assuming you've explained all the theory, have a proper brightline, etc. - is sincerity. Make it clear that this is an argument you actually believe in and care about. I found it most effective to present an "it's the principle of the thing" philosophy: the fact that this case is somewhat off-topic may not seem extremely important, but if people were never censured for running off-topic cases, the quality and focus of debate would gradually degrade. It's an issue of sticking to your principles. Yeah, maybe it doesn't seem so bad in this case, but you should vote it down on the principle of the thing to prevent worse abuse elsewhere.

(Speaking of which, do actually have a proper interpretation with a proper brightline, for the love of Mike. Don't just say "this is energy policy, not environmental policy!" or whatever. Propose an exact point at which something stops being environmental and starts being energy, and then show how the Affirmative is past it. Having an easily-understood brightline makes it immensely more straightforward to argue topicality. This goes for Affirmatives responding to t-presses as well.)

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:23 am 
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Sorry it's taken me a while to response; it's been the week of Christmas and that means traveling, festivities, and laziness.

It seems that the responses or counterpoints to my OP points are such:

1. "I don't run topicality so often because parent judges have preconceived notions of it being silly and time-wasting."

2. "I don't run topicality because, in the grand scheme of things, it is silly."

3. "I would run topicality more, but oftentimes I don't know where to draw the line insofar as when to run topicality and when not to."

Firstly, I want to make a prelude point:

1. (When I say "you," I mean each debater; I am not thinking of any person and when a point/sentence uses "you" it may not even apply to you.) You must develop a firm set of BLs for each resolution. You've got to be thinking critically through a carefully developed personal interpretation of the resolution. It's a heck of a lot harder to run topicality well and a heck of a lot easier to write topicality off when you don't even have a personal conviction based off of research & data of what the resolution means. I'm going to call this your personal, researchered, nuanced interp (PRNI). This is very important.

My responses to each:

1.

a. This may be a regional thing, but I would be willing to say it actually isn't as widespread of a problem with parents as some say it is. Usually, I run topicality much of the time at qualifiers and opens, less at regionals, and sparsely at nationals. This is because the non-topical cases (or at least the cases that lose some of the time on topicality) are either dropped early on or don't make it to regionals/nationals. In my experience (which is a good bit), I have only once come across a judge that has said they don't vote on topicality (and I didn't run it that time). A couple times I have had a judge note either before the round or on the ballot that they don't prefer topicality, but will still vote on it; I've still come out with good speaks and a win in those rounds after running topicality.

b. There are reasons why some judges think topicality is silly. In reality, I think it's really only one reason: they have seen topicality run poorly too many times.

c. In order to get parents back on the right track, you need to start running topicality well. In home school leagues you've got it pretty easy. I would say that less than 1% of parents would disregard a topicality argument on the grounds of not liking topicality in general. This means that if you can get a good grip on topicality, you have a lot of benefits to gain.

2.

a. Running topicality well requires a good amount of talent in many instances. When the case is not apparently non-topical to the layman (read: parents who haven't spent a lot of time--if any time--developing their PRNI of the resolution like you have), it can be very difficult and even artful to lay out your interp (which, remember, you believe is right beforehand based off of your PNRI) and then persuade a judge of the violation. You might say, "Well if it's so difficult, then why would I waste my time trying to nitpick my way to a win that I could have had more easily if I just ran policy arguments?" Good question, here are the reasons: i) You've gotta believe it! If you have a PRNI, then you'll enjoy persuading judges to adopt it for themselves. ii) You're actually not nit-picking if you have a PRNI. I've run the "this topicality press being run against me is stupid and violates the purpose of debate/topicality, so throw it away" argument myself before (and won with it many times), so I know that there are such things as stupid t-presses, but that's why you've got to develop your PRNI.

b) Topicality teaches you standards, violations, and impacts. This is a great, I repeat, great method for formulating other arguments. I really only fully grasped this last year. Running topicality is a good starting point for understanding this method, because topicality tends to be more cut-and-dry when you start out and allows a steady progression for introducing a larger variety of arguments which allows one to begin using the s/v/i method for other arguments in debate. Isaiah McPeak taught me this way of thinking and if you check his posts and the [url=ethosdebate.com/blog]Ethos blog[/url], he may have written about it.

c) Topicality is good practice for the real world and especially for law. See Dr. Srader's quotation in MSD's post.

d) If you are very good at running topicality, you should win with it when you run it 95% of the time. If you are very good at running other arguments (really when you guys say "policy arguments," you guys are talking about DAs, solvency, and CPs), you will win most of the time, but you will probably have less of a guaranteed win than running topicality very well. This is to say, topicality level 1000 is better than policy arguments level 1000. Why? Because at the end of the day, policy is subjective. You will get judges that disagree with you. Topicality, by nature, is less subjective, because it is rule (boundary) based. Granted, running topicality every round is not going to help you win all of those rounds. Develop your PRNI and then run topicality when a case doesn't fit inside your PRNI. If you get very good at running topicality, then you have a pretty good chance of winning when you're using your PRNI as a guide for when to run topicality or not.

e) If you have a PRNI, then you should believe that every case that doesn't jive with your PRNI should not be allowed to be run. The best way to stop non-topical cases from being run (and maybe beating teams and winning tournaments) is to run topicality well. A lot of times you hear teams pull out the "precedent" impact for t-presses saying that if a judge votes for a non-topical cases it will encourage other teams to run non-topical cases. This is usually blown up to absurd proportions, but it's not without warrant. To realize, you have to get out of your mind that every non-topical case is blatantly non-topical at first glance--that's not true at all, not even a bit. When topicality is not run and PRNIs are not developed, league-wide (and definitely region-wide) interps take the role of what should be a PRNI. This allows teams to run cases that are slightly non-topical and then, over time, develop a new region-wide or league-wide standard. Case in point was CAF last year; ask any criminal lawyer and they would essentially say it's not topical, but most NCFCA debaters thought it was, because topicality was not run well enough, frequently enough against CAF.

3.

a. Develop your PRNI, then run topicality whenever a case doesn't fit inside your PRNI.

4. "I keep running topicality and I keep losing with it--judges don't buy my presses." // "This case never loses on topicality, but I don't think it's topical. Do I still run topicality even though the empirical evidence is against me?"

a. Your PRNI conclusion may be right. You may be right in saying that a case is not topical. The problem is that just because a terminal conclusion is right, it doesn't mean the path to that end was convincing. For example, I could have a conclusion that the flu is going around my community, but what if my support was a single case-study and it was me! I could be right, and the flu could have hit my whole community, but unless I've got some convincing data to back up my conclusion, no one will bet on me being right. The same goes for topicality and the way to get the convincing data (translated, standards) is to brainstorm with other debaters, research the topic, talk to experts, analyze the grammar, investigate contexts, and so on. In other words, and to use a now-cliché, you have to continue to work on your PRNI.


I hope that some of that is helpful.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:52 pm 
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MSD wrote:
do actually have a proper interpretation with a proper brightline

Drew wrote:
assuming you've explained all the theory, have a proper brightline, etc.

Are you saying that a debater should always use bright line as a standard for his T press?

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:18 pm 
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Coach Carter wrote:
Kare brings up another point it does seem like you might be doing the "this is not fair...I'm not prepared" thing when you run topicality. Then to my other point that seems a little disingenuous when you proceed to make an three significance arguments, an inherency argument, shell out 5 Disads and let the judge know you ran out of time but your partner will finish fleshing out the disads in the 2NC. It was obviously close enough to being topical that you prepared some other arguments, so the judge is left to wonder why you have all these arguments for a case that was not even on topic.


I read something a while ago that I would tend to agree with. The question is not whether or not one can do research but rather whether or not one should have to do research. I can find plenty of evidence about the Patriot Act, but that doesn't mean it should be a case under a UN resolution.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:00 pm 
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Mr Glasses wrote:
Are you saying that a debater should always use bright line as a standard for his T press?
I don't mean "brightline" as some sort of standard, I mean using a brightline as part of your interpretation. (I'm not quite sure what you're asking.)

You don't have to have a brightline for your interpretation, but it sure helps. I'm inclined to think that, if an interpretation is so fuzzy that you can't come up with a brightline for it, then it's probably illegitimate or not worth arguing; and if you can come up with a brightline for it, you should be using the brightline. :P

Regardless, I have attacked t-presses for not having a brightline a few times, when it seemed useful: "Judge, they just keep asserting that we don't meet their interpretation. But they never gave you any objective criterion with which to decide whether we met their interpretation. According to our criterion, we do meet their interpretation. So here's what we have: you can vote for the unsupported assertion, and vote Negative; or you can actually evaluate the argument with our criterion, see why we meet their interpretation, and vote Affirmative." Etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:33 pm 
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Drew wrote:
Because at the end of the day, policy is subjective. You will get judges that disagree with you. Topicality, by nature, is less subjective, because it is rule (boundary) based.
I thought most of what Drew said about topicality made a ton of sense, but this one line gave me whiplash. In my experience, the above is anti-true.

If you'll forgive me a tangent, right now in India there are protesters in the streets calling for the perpetrators of a recent violent sex crime to be put to death by public hanging. That's triggered some serious discussion of whether India's capital punishment statute needs to be amended to include sexual assault as a crime punishable by death. What might surprise you is that the very advocates for safer streets and justice for the assault survivors say this is a terrible idea. It's not that they want light punishment for the perpetrators; rather, it's that ... and this is why I've put this tangent in this thread ... the severity of the punishment might very plausibly backfire and magnify doubt in the judges and jurors who have to reach the finding of guilt in the first place. In other words, if the defense puts even minor doubt in the jurors' minds, and they know that a guilty verdict means the death penalty would be on the table, they're quite a bit more likely to return a not guilty verdict and let the perpetrator walk free.

This plays out in debate. Trust me. Smart affirmatives will even try to tickle that tendency in judges' minds; I was trained as a freshman that one of my standard affirmative answers to any topicality argument at all should be "Affirmative leeway; since this is a capital crime for us and a zero-risk issue for them, any doubt means we get leeway."

Whether topicality is a voting issue or not is as black and white as anything in debate ever is. But whether the negative's interpretation is superior to the affirmative's is often a more elusive, gut-level debate than is the debate over solvency or a disadvantage link. Among other things, substantive arguments are often associated with concrete images like military hardware, or specific groups of people backlashing, whereas reasons to prefer competing topicality interpretations are a lot more abstract. The result is that an intricate and detailed debate over issues associated with concrete images is a lot easier to think about, untangle and resolve than an intricate and detailed debate over abstract issues. The in-depth arguments about abstract issues just make a lot of brain-work, and carry a much greater risk of confusion and fatigue. And since presumption on topicality is affirmative (think about it), a fatigued judge is very likely to default to saying the affirmative came close enough.

I believe negatives ought to debate topicality. I further think Drew's explanations of several of the reasons why, and component parts involved, are on the mark. But don't delude yourself that topicality debates are more cut-and-dried than debates on substantive issues, because that's almost never the case.

Oh, one last thing: the above overlaps heavily with the reasons I think this approach to topicality debating has promise. Topicality as keeping the topic size manageable via deterrence relies on some pretty absurdly exaggerated predictions, and topicality as punishment makes judges squirm uncomfortably, but topicality as eligibility might give them a different way to think about it, one that logically entails a lower threshold of offense, and is gain-framed at a positive outcome, not a negative sanction. Worth play-testing, maybe.


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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:06 pm 
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Dr. Srader, I see where you're coming from. I'm trying to figure out a way to properly and effectively communicate what I mean.

I think in general I agree with your points, but in some ways I disagree.

Simplified, your argument seems to be this: A topicality debate has potentially profound impact for the affirmative in that if they lose a singular t argument, they lose the round. This makes judges err on the side of lenience, especially when the debate is complex and nuanced.

My responses:

1. At the beginning of the year (when more non-topical cases are being run, as previously established), judges are more tabula rasa on topicality. Sure they have gut reactions, but generally speaking their t interps are still in a mostly evolving state (I find this especially for parents). On the converse, most parents have more firmly established policy leanings especially in the NCFCA. That being said, running T well is perhaps more advantageous than running a policy argument (at least one that is not an obvious winner--which is a whole discussion in and of itself) at the beginning of the year which is when topicality is most needed anyway.

2. You've got to go back to my PRNI argument. If you are running t poorly, then yes, you will probably lose. I think that topicality has less of a moral/ethical/philosophical backing than a policy argument, which means that you're bypassing a serious source of bias. If you have a solid PRNI and truly believe a case to be outside of it then running t well should yield a more cut-and-dry argument.

3. Empirically speaking, most of the non topical cases (or at least the non topical cases from my given PRNI perspective) die out by nationals. This means that either a) non topical cases usually lose on the policy arguments, or b) non topical cases usually lose on the topicality arguments. I'm inclined to say that the cause of the dying-out is option b.

4. A good PRNI should not allow much (if any) room for the possibility of a truth on the opposite side of the argument i.e. a good PRNI isn't nit picky or slippery. A judge shouldn't feel guilt about voting down a case on a topicality press when you run one if you are running topicality at the right times. I guess this is more akin to saying a prosecutor shouldn't be going for first degree murder when third degree murder is a possibility.

5. A negative team shouldn't be running arguments that wouldn't cost the aff team the round if the negative won them i.e. all neg arguments should be more or less a priori in some sense. I know that topicality carries a serious gravitas with it, but so should each of a negative team's arguments. This comes down to my principle of depth of quantity and only running winning arguments.

Those responses may be a repetitious and may be closer to a stream of consciousness.

I think it just comes down to the fact that topicality is less based around a set of ethical/moral values like policy arguments are and that there is less of a chance of bias (at least before the unspoken national/regional standards are established). Like any other argument, don't run topicality unless you know you should win with it (which is usually when a case falls outside of your PRNI).

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:35 pm 
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As far as using the impact of "fairness" or "research burden," you've got to know how to do it. Topicality is not an argument of one-liners despite how many teams run it.

Here are two model impacts of fairness and research:

1. Fairness: Judge, this impact is less akin to a little boy telling his mom that it's not fair that his brother got the bigger half of the cookie, and more akin to a scholarship competition entrant claiming that the winning entry violated the rules. Fairness has to be a part of debate, because if it weren't either team could say anything they wanted and still potentially win. Topicality provides a standard for winning a round and when a team violates that standard it's simply not fair, or just, or right for them to win.

2. Research: Judge, you'll notice that I ran more arguments than just topicality. How then can I be claiming that non topical cases place an unreasonable research burden on negative teams? Well for one, just because my team is capable of beating this case on its own ground doesn't mean that every other team could; don't set a topicality precedent based off of a single team's ability or resources to research. Secondly, just because I can research a non topical case, doesn't mean I should have to. In any type of topical debate, the negative team should have only the obligation to research the topic in order to have a fair footing in any given debate. If aff teams are allowed to run cases outside of the topic-established research area, then they are directly placing burdens on negative teams that they do not have the authority to place. This goes back to my first point. Some teams may be research Hercules, but some are not. What if a weight lifting contest was supposed to have a maximum of a 150-pound bench press, but instead started with 300 pounds? Some guys may be able to do it, because they are trained up to that weight, but most entered the competition with the 150-pound limit in mind. Don't let an affirmative use a 300 pound weight in a 150-pound competition.

[Obviously both are too wordy/use to many analogies, but I wanted you to firmly grasp the idea.]


Basically all interps worth their salt have a BL. Some are clearly established, others are operationally established. Some are more specific than others, as well. For example, here are two bare-bones presses:

1.

Interp: The resolution allows teams to change military commitments only

Vio: The aff cases reforms political commitments too

2.

Interp: The affirmative must reform the U.N. substantially

BL: Substantially is 1% increase or decrease in any of the following U.N. wholes: funds, manpower, member nations

Vio: Aff cuts program/project equaling .01% of total budget


The first press actually has BL, it's just glaringly obvious--anything non-military is out. The second has a very obvious BL.

BLs serve the purpose of basically drawing a line between aff ground and neg ground. All interps should do that.

And as a side-note, all interps (and therein BLs) should allow for a good number of topical cases, as well as non topical cases. You've got to be using interps that make the debate fair.

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 Post subject: Re: Topicality
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:26 am 
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I'd agree with Dr. Srader that with a good T debate there's a decent chance of the judge erring toward leniency and saying the aff is topical. I also agree with most of your arguments, but points 4 and 5 have some flaws.

On 4, I'd agree that with a good T debate the neg NTP will show aff as clearly non topical. But a good aff will run a Counter-NTP that shows them just as clearly topical. From there it's a standards debate, which could easily be won by either team, or at least result in not having solid links to any of the impacts, where the reasonability Dr. Srader talks about comes into play.

I think 5 ignores impact weighing. Sure, you want to be running important arguments as neg, but you're going to need impact weighing and/or win more than one of them to win the round. Unless you limit yourself to terminal solvency, PICs/PECs, Ks, and other theory, which severely limits your options and is rarely going to give you a high chance of winning. Any DA is going to need at least some work on impact weighing to show it's bigger than advantages. And running complementary good arguments to win the round is good strategy.

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