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Identify a social problem, local or global, that you feel passionate about.
Off Topics List: The topics of abortion, gun control, capital punishment or lowering the drinking age
Each student must write a policy proposition for his/her Argumentative
Speech. The following guidelines will assist you in that endeavor.
1. First select a topic area and then do some general reading on the topic. You need to
know enough about the topic area so that you can write a good proposition.
2. You must advocate a change in your speech, therefore you must determine the nature
of the status quo. What is our existing policy on this topic?
3. Every proposition has an agent of action. This is the body that will enact the change.
You must determine “who” you want to act. For example, you could have the state of
California initiate the policy change, or the federal government. You could even have
this very campus be the agent of action. Since you will need to thoroughly research
this topic the preferred agent is the United States federal government.
4. Since you cannot magically make the change you are advocating occur, you must use
the word “should” in your proposition. This is an acknowledgement that the agent of
action ought to change because of the arguments you present, not that it really will.
Saying “should” also eliminates the necessity of proving that the proposal is
constitutional, or that Senator X would actually vote for it. We are not really
concerned whether the policy would be adopted, only that your arguments convince
us that it ought to be.
5. Now you must identify what you want the agent to do. The action you propose must
indicate both the nature and direction of the change.
A. Nature: What is it that needs to be addressed? What is your topic area?
B. Direction: Do we need more or less of whatever it is that you wish to address? Does
something need to be banned? Or adopted? Or strengthened? Or reduced?
6. The words you use should be neutral. Remember the purpose of a proposition is to
divide the grounds of the debate evenly. If you loaded words like wasteful or
unnecessary you tilt the debate from the very beginning.
7. Most importantly, you must select a topic and word it is such a way as to make it a
true controversy. Remember, you will be writing a paper defending the other side of
the controversy. If it is not truly a controversy, that will be very difficult.
8. Your proposition must also be researchable. Compelling argument requires
quotations, statistics, examples, etc. These are best provided in the literature
published on this topic. A significant portion of your grade will be based on your use
of such evidence. Selecting a topic where there is ample available evidence will ease
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