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“Harms” are the arguments that explain WHY we need to do the plan.

What bad things could happen if we don’t act? Why might sticking with the status quo be HARMful?

Example: “[Friend] doesn’t own anything that fits the dress code, so if he/she doesn't buy a new outfit, he/she can't go." OR "[Friend] won’t look his/her best, and his/her date won’t be impressed.” 

You can probably think of some other plans that could be topical under the same resolution. For example, rather than going to the mall, [Friend] might rather choose to order something off the internet, borrow something from someone else, sew something, or any number of actions that would result in [Friend] having an outfit available to them that wasn’t available before.

You can also probably think of some possible actions that would be similar to the plan, but obviously not topical according to the resolution. For example, if
[Friend] went to the mall and bought a slice of pizza, or a new pair of gym shoes, or anything other than a Homecoming outfit.

Now, imagine that you suddenly receive a phone call from the kids’ parents, who say they’re on their way home right now, they picked up dinner for the kids on their way, and they should be home within 10 minutes, then your plan suddenly no longer has inherency.


In our Homecoming example, the aff would prove Inherency by making arguments like “[Friend] doesn’t already own anything appropriate to wear,”& “[Friend] can’t borrow an outfit,” etc. The point is to establish that going to the mall is actually necessary.


Imagine that you’re at the State Fair, and you’re asked to judge a pie contest. The event you’re assigned to judge is the Cherry Pie Contest.

In this scenario, if one contestant brings you a lemon pie, it does not matter if that lemon pie is the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten. It is not a cherry pie, and therefore it cannot win the cherry pie contest that you’ve been tasked with judging.

In exactly the same way, the aff can only win a debate by bringing the judge a plan that fits the assigned topic of the resolution.

In order to prove that the plan is a good idea, the aff needs to answer 4 basic questions about it. These are the 4 Stock Issues. 

We'll go over each one individually next. 

“Solvency” arguments explain HOW the plan will solve the problems laid out in the harms.

You can easily remember Solvency because it contains the word "solve."

Strong aff cases provide solvency arguments that explain specifically why the plan would be able to solve the harms.

In order to help determine what kinds of things you’d want to prove to establish solvency, think about what kinds of questions you might ask a friend if you were trying to decide whether their idea was a good one.

You would probably ask things like:

  • “is the plan physically possible?”
  • “Do we have enough money to do the plan?”
  • “Who might try to stop us?”
  • “What obstacles might we encounter?”
  • “What negative consequences might result?”

Most affirmatives will need to make more than one solvency argument, because they’ll need to prove multiple things true in order to prove that their plan is likely to solve the harms they identify.

Example:The plan “[Friend] should go to the mall and purchase an outfit” would need to win a couple of points that prove that it could actually solve the problem of needing an outfit to wear to Homecoming.

These might be things like “[Friend] has a car/transportation to the mall,” “[Friend] has enough money saved to buy an appropriate outfit,” “[Friend] has a favorite store where he/she can always find stuff he/she likes,” etc. 

​​​Intro toStock Issues


Imagine you are babysitting for your neighbors, and it’s dinner time for the kids you’re watching. They seem to be getting hungry, so you are confronted with a real-world resolution like “resolved: you should feed the children.”

You are formulating your plan to meet this resolution, and are considering the plan “I should order pizza.”

Let’s think about each of the stock issues in relation to the plan “order pizza” for the resolution “feed the kids”:

Returning to our Homecoming example, you can see that the plan to purchase an outfit from the mall is topical: it directly addresses the problem outlined by the resolution—the need to find something to wear to the Homecoming dance.

The “stock issues” are the main questions the affirmative must answer in order to win the debate. 

To help explain how the stock issues work, we'll use this easy example resolution:
“Resolved: [Your friend] should buy a new outfit for homecoming.”

The affirmative side of the debate must affirm the resolution by presenting a plan. The plan is their suggested method for accomplishing the goal of the resolution. The aff's job throughout the debate round will be to prove that the plan is a good idea. The Stock Issues are how they do this. 

For this example, our plan will be:
“[Your friend] should go to the mall and purchase an outfit.”

Harms- In another hour, the kids will be so hungry that they will start to misbehave.

Solvency- I have enough money to order pizza and am within a restaurant’s delivery window, and feeding the kids pizza would eliminate their hungry and thus resolve the harms.

 By ordering pizza, I feed the kids, address their hunger, and deal with the problem of the resolution.

Inherency- As far as I know now, their parents won’t be home for another 3 hours, meaning I will need to deal with the problem of feeding the kids dinner.

After that phone call, you would know that food was coming for the kids before they got problematically hungry, and that it was coming whether or not you ordered a pizza.

In other words, even if you called up the pizza restaurant right away and placed an order, it wouldn’t change the fact that the kids’ parents were already on their way home with dinner.  That means, whether you order pizza or not, the kids will get dinner within a few minutes.

If the kids you’re babysitting can expect to eat as soon as their parents get home, then all of the reasons you considered ordering pizza (“they’ll misbehave if they get too hungry”) no longer matter, since you know unrelated circumstances (the parents are on their way and bringing dinner) will already solve those problems. 

You're now ready to tackle the basic building blocks of every affirmative case-- the Stock Issues. 

A useful tool for remembering the name for each stock issue is the acronym H.I.T.S.



If inherency still seems kinda confusing, try this second example: 

“Inherency” arguments prove that the plan is actually necessary to prevent the harms, and that they won’t just solve themselves if left alone.

The need to establish inherency is best understood by thinking about the saying “don't try to reinvent the wheel.” In other words, don’t try to change things unless you’re sure it’s necessary.

When you change things that don’t need to be changed, you risk causing any number of unintended consequences.

“Topicality” arguments establish that the affirmative’s plan is actually relevant to the problem posed by the resolution.

The aff cannot win the debate by presenting any good plan—they have to present a good plan that successfully responds to the resolution. If the affirmative presents an idea that is good, but shown to not be related to the resolution, then the negative automatically wins.

In order to help explain how topicality works, we’re going to leave our Homecoming example behind for just a second, and look at an entirely separate analogy:​​

Put simply, Inherency is when the affirmative establishes that their case's harms are a real, ongoing problem, and not something that might go away on its own.