By Andrew Lee
Topicality (abbreviated as T) is a subset of theory that says that the affirmative needs to defend the topic, they have failed to do so, and that is unfair or uneducational. T is extremely similar to theory, with the main differences being:
- There needs to be a definition read with T defining certain words in the resolution that the affirmative has failed to defend. For example, if the topic is “Students ought to spend more money on McDonalds,” and the aff only defends one student spending more money on McDonalds, they have not defended the resolution because the resolution has “students” which is plural, not “student.” This would require a definition of “students” as being more than one student. Although this is a simple example, there are much more complex debates over definitions to be had, involving linguistics and the accuracy of one dictionary over another.
- (Usually) a “Topical Version of the Aff,” saying what the affirmative could’ve done to be topical. This is read pre-emtively as defense against a counter-interpretation to T, since it points out that the aff only needed to do one small thing to be topical, so it’s not that bad for them to have been topical.
- Arguments for why defending the topic is good - against non-T affs that have nothing to do with the resolution, teams will need to make arguments for why defending the topic is good in the first place. These can look like “limits - not having to defend the res means you can defend anything, including trivial statements like ‘racism is bad’” or “prep skew - you can read one aff for four years and be well prepped on it while we have to switch topics every month.”
Sample Theory Shells
Use Verbatim to open these. Also, although these shells are a helpful start, you should optimally write your own shells using these as a guideline.