The Department of Philosophy is proud to announce Professor Helga Varden’s book, “Sex, Love, and Gender: A Kantian Account” (Oxford University Press, 2020) was awarded the 2023 North American Kant Society’s Senior Scholar Prize. The Senior Scholar Prize is awarded annually for an outstanding article or book dealing with any aspect of Kant’s philosophy. The 2023 prize was given for the best Kant book published in the years 2020, 2021, and 2022, and nominations were submitted by the publishers.  

Varden's groundbreaking book, draws together Kant studies, feminist philosophy, and the philosophy of sex and love to illuminate contemporary issues such as abortion, sexual orientation, sexual or gender identity, marriage, trade in sexual services, and sex or gender-based oppression. It is the first volume to present a comprehensive philosophical theory that brings together all of Kant’s practical philosophy and rethinks his work on human nature to create space for sex, love, and gender within his moral accounts of freedom. The book shows how despite his austere and even anti-sex, cisist, sexist, and heterosexist reputation, Kant's writings on happiness and virtue and right in fact yield fertile philosophical ground on which we can explore specific contemporary issues. Varden combines Kant’s practical philosophical tools with feminist and gender theory, and in conversation with other relevant thinkers, to provide a critique of emotionally healthy, morally justifiable, and responsible forms of sexual, loving, and gendered being and of sexual and gendered wrongdoing and oppression. The paperback edition of “Sex, Love, and Gender” was recently released in February 2022.  

Varden is currently working on her second monograph, tentatively titled “Transforming Our Social Contracts,” which builds on the work of “Sex, Love, and Gender” to present a new Kantian theory of justice as freedom that makes appropriate space for both our diverse, embodied, social natures and our difficult histories, in part, by bringing to the fore questions, reflections, and ideas that always should have been central to these conversations in the philosophical tradition.