Hey everyone!

It’s John from Debate Academy and today we’re going to learn the purpose and essential parts of topicality. Neg debaters should be familiar with how to win on topicality and aff debaters must be ready to answer it.

Topicality is a negative position that argues that the affirmative’s plan is off-topic and does not fit under the resolution. Think of topicality as arguing that the aff has broken the rules and should lose because of it. Topicality arguments are read in the 1NC and used throughout the debate. Topicality is usually referred to simply as “T”

Topicality has four parts: the interpretation, the violation, the standards, and the voting issue.

The Interpretation defines a word or multiple words in the resolution.

The violation explains how the aff plan does not fit under this definition of a resolutional word.

The standards are the reasons that the interpretation is good for debate and usually focuses on establishing a fair amount of cases that can be read under the resolution.

And last, the voting issue explains why the aff team should lose the entire debate round for breaking the rules.

Let’s look at an example so you can better understand T.

Imagine we have the resolution: Debate Academy students should come together to bake a pie.

As a neg debater, we could make the crumbs DA since pies are messy, the fruit sugar DA because pies have a lot of sugar, and we could prepare case arguments against all the possible pies the aff might bring up. Imagine, we get all of these arguments ready and come to a tournament ready to debate.

However, the first team we debate says that we should make a CAKE! What would you do? None of the arguments we have prepared would apply. This is a situation where we should read T since the rest of our arguments won’t work.

So we could say something like:

  1. interpretation: pie is a pastry with fruit or meat cooked inside it.
  2. Violation: the aff team does not fit under the definition of pie because they want to bake a cake.
  3. Standards: they explode limits since they increase the quantity of cases from pies to all baked goods. That increases the amount of affs that can be read and makes it impossible to do effective negative research.
  4. Voting issue: they’re being unfair by changing the rules of the game and increasing the quantity of cases. They should lose.

So to recap: T is a negative argument that argues that the aff plan does not fit under the resolution and includes an interpretation, violation, standards, and voting issue.

That’s all for this lesson. Congratulations on taking the next step to become a successful policy debater. I’ll see you in the next episode.

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