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What is a Philosothon?

A Philosothon is concerned with big questions, questions at the edge of science and reason. Each school selects between 5-8 students to represent the school and together they explore philosophical and ethical issues verbally. During the event they discuss four issues and the aim is to collectively come to a conclusion about the issue. The event differs from debating in that students are scored highly if they build on each others arguments. While some have a problem with the fact that this is a competition most educators recognise the healthy respect for the ideas of others which is fostered in a Philosothon. Students can change their mind during the course of the discussion.


Young philosophers are marked on the clarity and intellectual rigour of their contributions to the community of inquiry. Philosothon aims for vernacular accessibility and collaboration over competition and speciality. As a result, Philosothon is judged not on how many philosophical concepts you can slide into the conversation or how well you can 'debate' your teammates. Ultimately, Philsothon is a safe and collaborative space that allows students from all year groups, knowledge and skills to work together and enrich each other.  

Unlike many other competitions, Philosothon does not encourage adversarial like behaviour, instead preferring collaboration and teamwork within the community of inquiry. 


Taking the form of a 'community of inquiry' (COI) students from a diverse range of schools collaborate to answer a philosophical question. Given university grade stimulus material written by well respected academics, students are exposed to a wide range of philosophical disciplines, including epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics.

This group starts off with students in the same year with a facilitator who guides the discussion and selects students to contribute. Starting off with prepared questions from the students, eventually the discussion evolves to tackle larger philosophical questions. The students are marked by a Philosophy academic from the local university on their contributions and collaborative efforts.

As the Philosothon progresses, students are introduced to 'mixed' communities of inquiry which have students from a diverse range of year groups. 

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