Philosophy Major: Ethics and Social Responsibility Option (B.A.)

Philosophy Major: Ethics and Social Responsibility Option (B.A.)
photos of student in class

What is the ethics and social responsibility option in philosophy?

The ethics and social responsibility option in philosophy is designed for students who are especially concerned with exploring issues around individual and social moral responsibility, including in the areas of business, medicine, politics and technology. You’ll learn critical analytical and communication skills while exploring topics through a philosophical lens. You’ll be able to explore deep questions around issues such as the ethics of markets and money, law and medicine, and the implications of rapidly emerging technology. Majors in the philosophy degree program pursue careers in fields including business, education, law, medicine, technology and public service.

Why study ethics and social responsibility at UNH?

Our internationally-renowned professors in the philosophy program are experts in ethics and social and political philosophy, and they emphasize discussion, debate and writing in their courses. You’ll be able to participate in the weekly on-campus and student-led Socratic Society discussions, and occupy various leadership roles in the department, the university and the community.

Potential careers

  • Business professional
  • Communications executive
  • Community service organizer
  • Ethicist
  • Healthcare professional
  • Lawyer
  • Politician
  • Professor
  • Teacher
  • Technology professional
  • Writer
  • video still of Nathaniel Hunt
    Philosophy Major: Ethics and Social Responsibility Option
    Many of the things Nathaniel Hunt ’22 learned as a philosophy major proved beneficial when he conceived a business idea, and his partnership with the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center helped take the project from concept to Holloway Competition winner. Hear Nathaniel’s story in his own words.
    Learn More
  • crary cam
    Philosophy Major | Systems Engineer at Google
    Why did you major in philosophy? I had this crazy idea after high school that I wanted to be a professional rock climber. I never got close to good enough, but devoted a lot of time to training and weekend trips to Rumney. It was awesome and I don't at all regret my time in the mountains, but it meant I didn't spend much energy thinking about my future. I think if…
    Learn More
  • photo of Dave Turner
    Philosophy Major | Securities Lawyer
    Why did you major in philosophy? Philosophy's appeal lay in both the topics it addressed, and the way it addressed them. It promised to help me understand big questions and ideas in a clear, consistent and methodical way. The idea of becoming a clear thinker was enormously attractive. What are you doing now? I am a securities…
    Learn More
  • photo of Kathleen Grennen
    Philosophy Major | Registered Nurse
    Why did you major in philosophy?  As a second-semester freshman, I was seeking a course to satisfy my general education requirement in the arts, and decided to take Philosophy and the Arts. In this course, I was captivated by our conversations surrounding the meaning of beauty, and was challenged to think in a way that was previously foreign to me. I always recall…
    Learn More
  • Guillame Delloue
    Philosophy Major | Hubspot
    Read more about how Guillaume Delloue is using his Philosophy major.
    Learn More

Curriculum & Requirements

While completing the philosophy major, students may select the option in ethics and social responsibility. This option provides official recognition for those who choose to emphasize concern with moral responsibility in personal and social contexts, including the political and corporate arenas. Students will choose courses in environmental ethics, law, evolution, social and political philosophy, and feminism. 

Degree Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement: 128 credits
Minimum Residency Requirement: 32 credits must be taken at UNH
Minimum GPA: 2.0 required for conferral*
Core Curriculum Required: Discovery & Writing Program Requirements
Foreign Language Requirement: Yes

All Major, Option and Elective Requirements as indicated.
*Major GPA requirements as indicated.

Major Requirements

Students must fulfill the requirements of the philosophy major plus the requirements of the option. Majors must take a minimum of ten (10) philosophy courses, for a total of 40 credits. A single course can satisfy multiple requirements for the major. The required minimum overall GPA in major coursework is 2.00 and the minimum grade for all courses counting toward the major is a "C-."  Candidates for a degree must satisfy additional University requirements for graduation, such as: 

  1. University "Writing Intensive" Requirements,
  2. Philosophy majors must satisfy the language requirement for the B.A., as a part of their liberal arts education.  See the UNH Advising Handbook for how students may satisfy this requirement.  Students who would like to satisfy this requirement with a language not offered by COLA (such as American Sign Language) should speak with their advisor about how to petition for an exception,
  3. minimum number of credits (128 credits for B.A. degree), and
  4. University Discovery Requirements.

Consult with your adviser early and often to plan the optimal path for fulfilling major and University requirements. 

Core Requirements
PHIL 412Beginning Logic4
PHIL 500Workshop4
PHIL 530Ethics4
PHIL 570Ancient Philosophy4
PHIL 580Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant4
Electives 1
Select three (3) additional philosophy courses of the student's choice.12
Discovery Capstone Requirement
Select two (2) 700-level philosophy courses (excluding PHIL 795, PHIL 798, and PHIL 799) of the student's choice, at least one of these should be taken in the senior year8
Total Credits40

PHIL 495 Tutorial Reading and PHIL 795 Independent Study normally do not count toward fulfilling major requirement credits; exceptions may be granted by special permission.

Ethics and Social Responsibility Option Requirements

This option requires four (4) courses (for a total of 16 credits) from those listed below, with one PHIL 530 Ethics already strictly required for the major. Students may “double count” these courses toward the general requirements of the philosophy major, for example, by counting three (3) of these courses as the elective courses required for the major.

Select four of the following courses:16
PHIL 405
Critical Thinking
PHIL #405W
Critical Thinking
PHIL 410
Happiness, Well-Being , and a Good Life
PHIL 419
Race, Gender and Social Justice
PHIL #419W
Race, Gender and Social Justice
PHIL 420
Introduction to Philosophy of Law and Justice
PHIL 424
The Future of Humanity: Science, Technology, and Society
Honors/The Future of Humanity: Science, Technology, and Society
PHIL 430
Ethics and Society
Ethics and Society
PHIL 431
Business Ethics
PHIL 436
Social and Political Philosophy
Honors/Social and Political Philosophy
Social and Political Philosophy
Honors/Who's Human Now?
PHIL 450
Environmental Ethics
PHIL 510
Philosophy and Feminism
PHIL 520
Introduction to Eastern Philosophy
PHIL 525
PHIL 530
PHIL 531
Topics in Professional and Business Ethics
PHIL 660
Law, Medicine, and Ethics
PHIL #701
Topics in Value Theory
PHIL 780
Special Topics

By permission because only some sections of the course will count toward the major option.

Note that it is in the nature of 700-level seminars to presuppose by default that students have completed the main 400-level and 500-level core requirements (PHIL 412 Beginning Logic, PHIL 500 Workshop, PHIL 530 Ethics, PHIL 570 Ancient Philosophy, PHIL 580 Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant) and so free reference is made to materials, views, techniques, etc. covered in those lower-level core requirements.

Discovery Requirements

For students majoring in only philosophy: philosophy majors may "double count" any two courses toward the major and also to satisfy Discovery requirements. For example, a philosophy major can count (1) PHIL 412 Beginning Logic toward the major requirement as well as using this course to satisfy the Quantitative Reasoning Discovery Category and (2) they can also count PHIL 421 Philosophy and the Arts toward both the major and the Fine and Performing Arts Discovery Category. Because PHIL 412 Beginning Logic  and PHIL 570 Ancient Philosophy are required for the major and also satisfy Quantitative Reasoning and Humanities Categories, respectively, all majors could simply count these two courses toward their Discovery requirements. In various circumstances—for instance if a student already satisfied those Discovery requirements before becoming a philosophy major—one might prefer to count other philosophy courses toward different Discovery Categories, and they are free to do so.

For students double majoring with philosophy: The Department sets no limits on how many courses students may "double count" toward both the philosophy major and Discovery categories if philosophy is your second major. A double major with philosophy as the second major could in principle count any of the following courses toward the major while satisfying five Discovery Categories:

  1. Quantitative Reasoning (QR) Discovery Category could be satisfied by PHIL 412 Beginning Logic.
  2. Fine and Performing Arts (FPA) Discovery Category could be satisfied by PHIL 421 Philosophy and the Arts.
  3. Humanities (HUMA) Discovery Category could be satisfied by PHIL 401 Introduction to PhilosophyPHIL 405 Critical ThinkingPHIL #405W Critical ThinkingPHIL 410 Happiness, Well-Being , and a Good LifePHIL 419 Race, Gender and Social Justice, PHIL #419W Race, Gender and Social Justice, PHIL 420 Introduction to Philosophy of Law and Justice,  PHIL 430 Ethics and SocietyPHIL 431 Business Ethics, PHIL 436 Social and Political PhilosophyPHIL 440A Honors/Who Are You? Personal Identity and Humanity, PHIL 440B Honors/Who's Human Now?PHIL 510 Philosophy and Feminism, PHIL 525 ExistentialismPHIL 531 Topics in Professional and Business Ethics, or PHIL 570 Ancient Philosophy.
  4. World Cultures (WC) Discovery Category could be satisfied by PHIL 440C Honors/The Copernican Lens: Finding a Place for Humanity or PHIL 520 Introduction to Eastern Philosophy.
  5. Environment, Technology, and Society (ETS) Discovery Category could be satisfied by PHIL 424 The Future of Humanity: Science, Technology, and Society, PHIL 435 Human Nature and Evolution, PHIL 447 Artificial Intelligence, Robots, and People, or PHIL 450 Environmental Ethics.

UNH philosophy majors acquire the ability to think systematically and imaginatively about fundamental and enduring issues such as morality, justice, happiness, beauty, gender, race, nature, artificial intelligence, space, time, and the meaning of life and death. Our internationally-renowned professors emphasize discussion, debate and writing in our courses. Wrestling with the “big questions” from diverse and global perspectives prepares students exceptionally well for a variety of fulfilling careers. Cultivating a lively and nurturing community personally invested in the success of our high achieving students, we take pride in watching our graduates excel in top law and graduate schools, innovative social justice programs, and various positions from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

More concretely, we monitor the following learning objectives.

  • Students understand major philosophers and philosophical ideas accurately.
  • Students apply their understanding of ideas in novel contexts.
  • Students write effectively.
  • Students speak effectively.
  • Students argue with depth, precision, balance, and insight.
  • Students understand the formal structure of arguments and understand rules of inference.
  • Students read analytically, critically, and empathetically.
  • Students critically assess their own preconceptions, commitments and ideas.

The main way we oversee student progress is through close mentorship, early on in our 2nd year orientation designed for new majors (PHIL 500 Workshop), and culminating in their presentation of research in two required 700-level seminars. We also strongly encourage participation in the annual Philosophy Department Undergraduate Research Conference.

Please note: All courses counting for the major must be completed with a grade of C- or better.

Take the Next Step

student in doorway of UNH campus building
Learn How to Apply
thompson hall in summer
Schedule a Visit
student at Career Event
Request Information