Practical philosophy

© Ashim D'Silva

Research in the discipline of practical philosophy covers a broad area of social scientific philosophy. At the University of Helsinki, the discipline focuses on moral philosophy, social philosophy and the philosophy of the social sciences. The discipline staff include researchers and teachers specialising in each area.

The disciplines of theoretical philosophy and filosofi (sv.) are located in the Faculty of Arts. More information about the research can be found here.


  • Practical philosophy examines the conceptual and normative foundations of morality and society. It explores values, norms, rights, social orders and ideologies as well as related analysis of concepts and argumentation. Applied ethics and social philosophy examine concrete problems in the light of philosophical theories.
  • Ethics includes research into general moral standards and human values, as well as applied ethics, bioethics, environmental ethics, and professional ethics which studies the moral standards of journalism, law, medicine, scientific research and other professional fields. Related to these areas of ethics, social and political philosophy explores the ethical values of both private and public institutions as well as the foundations and basic principles of democracy.
  • The philosophy of the social sciences investigates the conceptual, epistemological and logical foundations of social theories. In addition, the research explores various issues encompassing the nature and development of social sciences as well as their relationship with society. The general objective of the research is to produce philosophy of the social sciences that is also genuinely relevant for social sciences.
  • Activity theory analyses human activity and its explanations. Cooperation, social intentions and social ontology are also related to social activity.

Feminist ethics and feminist theories on the philosophy of science and political philosophy have also been introduced in the discipline’s research.

In social scientific research, the discipline of practical philosophy collaborates closely with the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (TINT). Many TINT researchers teach courses in practical philosophy every year.

For more information about research and grant-funded researchers, see the University of Helsinki research portal.


The aim of studies in practical philosophy is to familiarise the student with human thinking and related information, provide a systematic understanding of philosophy as an independent discipline as well as its specialist fields, and train students in philosophical analysis and argumentation.

During the course of studies in practical philosophy, the student will explore the basic issues of human activity and society, as well as common philosophical dilemmas in the social sciences field. Students can also specialise in a sub-field of philosophy.

As of 2017, the University of Helsinki is offering joint Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes for all philosophy students, but the degree requirements and titles of practical philosophy differ from those of theoretical philosophy. The Faculty of Arts coordinates the Bachelor’s Programme in Philosophy, and the Faculty of Social Sciences is responsible for the Master’s Programme in Philosophy. The major subject of philosophy students at the Faculty of Social Sciences is social and moral philosophy, and they graduate as Bachelor or Master of Social Sciences degree holders.

Degree programmes that offer teaching in social and moral philosophy

Practical philosophy has several ongoing research projects. The content of each project is described in detail on the project websites and the University’s Tuhat research project database.

The philosophy disciplines of the University of Helsinki (practical philosophy, theoretical philosophy, and Swedish-language philosophy) meet the highest international standards. In 2017 the philosophy disciplines rose to 25th place in the QS ranking of universities worldwide. This means that philosophy at the University of Helsinki is Finland’s leading academic discipline and ranks third among universities in non-English speaking countries.

TINT – Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences

The Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences collaborates closely with the discipline of social and moral philosophy. TINT researchers focus particularly on issues of social ontology, the philosophy of the social sciences and the philosophy of science.

TINT is the world’s largest research unit in its field and conducts internationally esteemed research. The discipline of social and moral philosophy and TINT together provide an ideal environment for research and study to students and researchers interested in social, social scientific and ethical issues as well as the philosophy of science.

Career prospects

Practical philosophy graduates are employed in a wide range of positions. Most work as researchers and teachers at institutions of higher education, general upper secondary school and other educational institutions. Others work, for example, as journalists and communications specialists as well as in administrative and planning positions.

Postal and street address for the discipline of practical philosophy

PO Box 24 (Unioninkatu 40)
00014 University of Helsinki

Information for media

Contact details of communications staff