Welcome to the Philonomosian Society of Georgetown University!

The Philonomosian Society is Georgetown's foremost debate organization: revived and adapted for modern times. Our purpose, as articulated in 1845, is "to promote eloquence and to acquire an accurate knowledge of history and of the leading social and political questions of the day." We pursue this through weekly debates on topics of business, public policy, ethics, law, and philosophy. We accept all attendants and persuasions, in line with the Chicago principles of free speech. Additionally, we foster camaraderie and friendly competition with our unique Cohort system. 

Please join us on Wednesday nights from 8:00 to 10:00 pm in the fourth-floor conference room of the Rafik B. Hariri Building for our weekly debates. Nomos!

Longtime Institution Gains New Footing

The Philonomosian Society was founded on January 8, 1839, by Rev. John A. McGuigan, S.J., and was one among numerous debating organizations on the campus of Georgetown College. Our founding motto, "Lex, Libertas, Salusque Gentis," (translated to "Law, Liberty, and the People's Wellbeing") indicates a strong connection between debate and congeniality. Uniquely, the Philonomosian opened its membership to underclassmen and Georgetown Preparatory students, fostering a culture of inclusion and positive competition. On Wednesday nights, students crafted unique arguments and improved their rhetoric, responding to the leading issues of their time. Unfortunately, the organization went dormant following the 1931-1932 academic year. However, this revival envisions a return to the respectful multi-partisanship that prepared Georgetown students to engage constructively with the peculiarities of our country. 

A Home in the McDonough School of Business 

The revived Philonomosian Society is an access-to-benefits organization under the Georgetown McDonough School of Business Advisory Board (MSAB). Our nimble debate format trains emerging entrepreneurs. financiers, and business and civic leaders in rhetoric and public speaking. However, this should not deter members of the undergraduate and graduate communities from joining the Philonomosian. Our open membership and debate policy permits any question to be debated, with ample room for intellectual pursuits outside of business. Our guiding ethic, "Debate is the servant of the truth," transcends any ideology or course of study. 

The Cohort System 

In the style of great collegiate political unions, the Philonomosian divides its membership along ideological lines between five Cohorts: Progressive, Liberal, Independent, Federalist, and Tory. Members align their arguments with the tenets and values of their Cohort but may speak on either side of the resolution. Petitioners to the Philonomosian will choose a Cohort upon applying for membership and may switch their affiliation during their academic career. No Cohort will go unrepresented on any Committee of the Philonomosian. No person or persuasion has a monopoly on the truth, as the Philonomosian both challenges and rewards ideological diversity. 


Business professional attire is required for all debates. If this provides any impediment to your participation, please contact our officers.