LD Topic Committee Updates (6/21 12:50)

Here is the most recent version of the topic list for next year.


1) In the United States, non-human animals ought to have legally protected rights.

2) Individuals are obligated to value the common good over their own interests.

3) Capital punishment is immoral.

4) In the United States, physician-assisted suicide of terminally ill patients ought to be legal.


a) The United States ought to decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs for personal use.

b)  The United States ought to legalize illicit drugs.

6) The United States ought to provide a universal basic income.

8) In the United States, workers ought to have a civil right to unionize.

9) In the United States, race ought not be a factor considered in the admission of students to public colleges and universities.

10) In the United States, all citizens ought to be guaranteed free tuition to public colleges and universities.

11) Wealthy nations have an obligation to provide development assistance to other nations.

14) In the United States, membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment ought to be illegal.

15) In the United States, reporters ought to have the right to protect the identity of confidential sources.

17) Targeted killing by the United States is unjust.


a) A democracy ought to require the separation of church and state.

b) A just democracy is compatible with the religious justification of government policy.

19) The non-therapeutic use of human enhancement technologies is immoral.

20) United States trade policy ought to protect domestic industries from foreign competition.

21) Plea bargaining ought to be abolished in the United States criminal justice system.

23) Privileged individuals ought not appropriate the culture of a marginalized group.

  • nevin gera

    I think UBI could be better phrased as “Just governments ought to provide a universal basic income to citizens,” or something along those lines, so that specification of certain people (like those with disabilities) could be a possibility without being extra topical, and so that affirmatives could focus the debate on other, more poverty stricken countries. While there would be a lot of potential affirmatives under that method of writing the topic, I think the success of the living wage topic (which was likely even more broad since you can spec any sector) demonstrates how that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Also, I personally think it would make the topic include a much greater diversity of argumentation.

    I definitely think UBI, animal rights, right to unionize, protectionism, targeted killing, country assistance, legalization and human enhancement should be on the final potential topics list since they seem to be a) the most politically relevant, b) the most likely to foster clash, and c) most ideologically diverse.

    • Peter Zhang

      The point of a UBI is that it’s universal, so I don’t think speccing a group of people would be topical under either wording.

      • nevin gera

        Yeah, I agree that the specification of individuals is non sensical. I do still hold, however, that not specifyng a country would be a good idea.

  • jacob luxus

    5a is definitely better but both 18a and 18b aren’t very good

  • justin mccleskey

    2 9 18 and 23 are all just weird, unfairly biased, and wouldn’t have good substance debate.

    16 needs to be back on this

    1 3 5 6 8 10 and 21 are good

    14 and 20 are decent

    15 19 and 17 dont have much good ground on either side

    4 is a little unfair. Id change it to just assisted suicide or suicide in general not for terminally ill patients so both sides have ground but i would love this topic if it was changed to it.

    again 11 would be good if it was changed to be specific. It should be that the US should help ___ country

    • justin mccleskey

      also for 19 id love for it to be changed to the way jnebel wrote in the comments and make it “The United States ought to substantially increase funding for the research and development of human enhancement technologies.” Also more of the topics need to become US specific and be changed to “ought to do” to avoid tedious clarification in rounds and to avoid vagueness.

  • jnebel

    I love that there is a human enhancement topic on the list, but I think it’d be hard to affirm the topic as worded right now. Why not something roughly like, “The United States ought to substantially increase funding for the research and development of human enhancement technologies.” (Split infinitives open a whole new world for topic wording.)

    Why so many “ought to be” and “ought to have” wordings, compared to more direct “ought to do” wordings?

  • Cameran Rynearson

    5a is better and 18b
    5b is wayyy too broad, lots of room for abuse imo. 5a could be better if it was worded something like making it legal FOR use instead of making it legal for possession to use. Not that big of a difference, but it could tip the debate.
    18a makes it seem as if the aff would have to advocate for restricting freedom of religion in politicians, which is why I like the word compatible a lot better.
    23. IK I posted abt this in the other post, but once again: aff has very little ground here. They have to say hurting someone’s feelings is more important than the first amendment. Pls don’t, just don’t.
    Most of these topics are basic, pick some fun ones that are controversial but still fair. I would enjoy 4, 6, 9, 10, 17, 19

  • JP Stuckert

    I would like to see UBI, right to work, or protectionism (6,14, 20) be a Jan-Feb topic as they have a wide range of phil, critical and policy ground, and living wage was a good economic policy topic and these are similar. I say keep at least 2 of them on the final list. I prefer 14 to 8 because I think the division of ground is better.

    Still think 4 will probably lead to a topic nullification movement.

    I agree that 2 should have a clause specifying conflict, but I also still agree with Marshall’s point that there’s a problem with quantifying how much one should be prioritized over the other which will lead to boring theory/burdens debates.

    I think 18b is an improvement over a, but “compatible” might not be the best possible word. Not sure what the alternative is though.

    I think 23 is better than it was but it doesn’t particularly stand out as good or bad to me in this list.

  • Qasfed

    Can #19 be changed to the non-therapeutic use of human enhancement technologies ought to be oughtlawed

    Just saying something is immoral gets rid of a lot of clash on the framework and saying “outlawed” allows for arguments which say banning is bad instead of just enhancement good

  • Debater

    Interesting, though I feel like there should be some distinction about what animals are brought up. I don’t think it’s going to be a good debate if one side is arguing about saving puppies and the other is advocating for studying microorganisms. Maybe specify mammals or primates or something.
    Maybe add the words “When the two conflict,” at the end. I can see a bunch of people trying to say that it’s in your interests to look after the common good as well
    This just doesn’t make sense the way it’s currently written, I’m sorry. If it’s legalized, it’s not illicit. If it’s illicit, it’s by definition not legalized. Maybe specify a type of drug or recreational drugs or a class of drugs or something
    I would specify developing countries or countries in need or something. Otherwise it could just be the united states sending money to England or another wealthy country instead of, like, developing countries in Africa or places in need
    I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t know if there’s anything technically wrong with the wording or whatever, but please don’t
    I think this one might be pretty interesting
    Think it would be good to specify against what groups it’s ok. For example add, “…or national security threats,” or “…terrorist leaders.”
    Please don’t do B. The wording’s a bit confusing, too many “just”
    Really interesting topic, but I would maybe limit it to a specific area, such as gene therapy or hormone treatments. I feel like there’s going to be one debater at every tournament arguing that swimming goggles should be included because they enhance an individuals ability to see underwater, or that high heels enhance somebody’s height. An extreme, I know, but the argument could be made…
    I feel like a bunch of the topics from the last couple years have kind of involved plea bargaining as background info (qualified immunity, jury nullification, etc). I feel like it would be really cool to have it be the center for once.
    What? I don’t even know if this can be considered a debate topic. Just please don’t.

  • Angrytheorydebater

    How are 2 and 23 still on this list, both of those topics are so bad that calling them topics would be a stretch

    • justin mccleskey

      idk man… idk