Helga Varden

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Associate Professor of Philosophy
Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies

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Varden’s main research interests are in Kant's practical philosophy as well as legal, political, and feminist philosophy. She has published on a range of classical philosophical issues, including Kant’s answer to the murderer at the door, private property, political obligations, and political legitimacy, as well as on applied issues such as terrorism, abortion, and same-sex marriage. She is currently completing the manuscript A Kantian Theory of Sexuality, forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Kant’s practial philosophy, Legal and political philosophy, feminist philosophy, applied ethics, philosophy of sex and love.


  • 2001-2006: University of Toronto, Canada. Ph.D. in philosophy. Thesis title: The Liberal Ideal of Political Obligations: The Lockean Voluntarist vs. Kant’s Non-Voluntarist Ideal of Political Obligations. Thesis director: Arthur Ripstein. Readers: Gopal Sreenivasan and Sergio Tenenbaum.
  • 1996-1999: University of Tromsø, Norway. MA in philosophy.
  • 1994-1996: University of Tromsø, Norway. Undergraduate studies in philosophy.
  • 1994: Awarded the professional title of “siviløkonom” (“civil business manager”) by the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration.
  • 1993-1994: London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. MSc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management.
  • 1990-1993: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. BA (Hons.) in Business Management.

Distinctions / Awards


Book Contributions

  • "Rawls vs. Nozick vs. Kant on Domestic Economic Justice." Kant and Social Policies. . Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 93-123.
  • "Immanuel Kant – Justice as Freedom." Philosophie de la justice/Philosophy of Justice. . Netherlands: Springer, 2015. 213-37.
  • "John Locke – Libertarian Anarchism." Philosophie de la justice/Philosophy of Justice. . Netherlands: Springer, 2015. 157-76.
  • Varden, Helga. "A Feminist, Kantian Conception of the Right to Bodily Integrity: the Cases of Abortion and Homosexuality." Out of the Shadows: Analytical Feminist Contributions to Traditional Philosophy. . Ed. Sharon Crasnow and Anita M. Superson. Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Varden, Helga. "A Kantian Conception of Free Speech." Free Speech in a Diverse World. . Springer, 2010. 39-55.
  • Varden, Helga. "International and Cosmopolitan Political Obligations." Coercion and the State. . Ed. David A. Reidy and Walter Riker. Springer, 2008. 239-250.

Journal Articles

  • "Self-Governance and Reform in Kant’s Liberal Republicanism: Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory in Kant’s Doctrine of Right." dois pontos 13.2 (2016): 39-70.
  • Varden, Helga. "Kant and Women." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2015): 25 Oct. 2015. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/papq.12103/abstract>.
  • "The Terrorist Attacks in Norway, July 22nd 2011— Some Kantian Reflections." Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift/Norwegian Journal of Philosophy 49.3-4 (2014): 236-59.
  • Varden, Helga. "Patriotism, Poverty, and Global Justice—A Kantian Engagement with Pauline Kleingeld’s Kant and Cosmopolitanism." Kantian Review 10.2 (2014): 251-266.
  • Varden, Helga. "A Kantian Critique of the Care Tradition: Family Law and Systemic Justice." Kantian Review 17.2 (2012):
  • Varden, Helga. "Amartya Sen's The Idea of Justice - Some Kantian Rejoinders." Social Philosophy Today (2012):
  • Varden, Helga. "The Lockean Enough-and-as-Good Proviso - An Internal Critique." Journal of Moral Philosophy (2012):
  • "A Kantian Conception of Global Justice." Review of International Studies 37.05 (2011): 2043-2057.
  • Varden, Helga. "G. A. Cohen's Rescuing Justice and Equality - A Critical Engagement." Social Philosophy Today 26 (2010): 175-189.
  • Varden, Helga. "Kant's Murderer at the Door.. One More Time: Kant's Legal Philosophy and Lies to Murderers and Nazis." Journal of Social Philosophy 41.4 (2010): 403-421.
  • Varden, Helga. "Kant's Non-Absolutist Conception of Political Legitimacy: How Public Right 'Concludes' Private Right in "The Doctrine of Right"." Kant-Studien (2010): 331-51.
  • Varden, Helga. "Lockean Freedom and the Proviso's Appeal to Scientific Knowledge." Social Theory and Practice 36.1 (2010): 1-20.
  • Varden, Helga. "Nozick's Reply to the Anarchist: what He Said and what He Should Have Said about Procedural Rights." Law and Philosophy 28.6 (2009): 585-616.
  • Varden, Helga. "Kant's Non-Voluntarist Conception of Political Obligations: Why Justice Is Impossible in the State of Nature." Kantian Review 13.2 (2008): 1-45.
  • Varden, Helga. "Diversity and Unity: An Attempt at Drawing a Justifiable Line." Archiv fur Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie/Archives for Philosophy of Law and Philosophy 94.1 (2008): 1-25.
  • Varden, Helga. "A Kantian Conception of Rightful Sexual Relations: Sex, (Gay) Marriage, and Prostitution." Social Philosophy Today 22 (2007): 199-218.
  • Varden, Helga. "Kant and Dependency Relations: Kant on the State''s Right to Redistribute Resources to Protect the Rights of Dependents." Dialogue - Canadian Philosophical Review XLV (2006): 257-284.
  • Varden, Helga. "Locke's Waste Restriction and His Strong Voluntarism." Locke Studies 6 (2006): 127-141.
  • Varden, Helga. "Politisk filosofi uten metafysikk?." Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 3 (2001):

Newspaper Articles

  • Finholt, Hege C., and Helga Varden. "Niqab-forbud stenger folk ute." Vårt Land. 8 Oct. 2016.

Magazine Articles

  • Varden, Helga. "Den fattige debatten." Salongen - nettidsskrift for filosofi og idehistorie. 25 Nov. 2015. 25 Nov. 2015. <http://www.salongen.no/?p=7288>.
  • "Retten til frihet – om fremmedgjøring og undertrykking i den norske offentligheten." Salongen—Tidsskrift for filosofi og idehistorie. 14 Nov. 2016.
  • "Norsk filosofi - et blikk utenfra." Salongen - nettdsskrift for filosofi og idehistorie. 31 Jul. 2015. 31 Jul. 2015. <http://www.salongen.no/?p=7288>.

Website Articles

  • "The Politics of Narcissism, Dehumanization, and Dispossession: From Norway to Orlando to Britain." Medium. 27 Jun. 2016.

Encyclopedia Entries

  • Varden, Helga. "Robert Nozick." The Cambridge Rawls Lexicon, ed. J. Mandle and D. Reidy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • Varden, Helga. "Charity." Encyclopedia of Global Justice, ed. Deen Chatterjee. Springer, 2011.
  • Varden, Helga. "Contemporary Responses to Kant." Encyclopedia of Global Justice, ed. Deen Chatterjee. Springer, 2011.
  • Varden, Helga. "Immanuel Kant." Encyclopedia of Global Justice, ed. Deen Chatterjee. Springer, 2011.
  • Varden, Helga. "Imperfect and Perfect Duties." Encyclopedia of Global Justice, ed. Deen Chatterjee. Springer, 2011.
  • Varden, Helga. "Positive and Negative Duties." Encyclopedia of Global Justice, ed. Deen Chatterjee. Springer, 2011.
  • Varden, Helga. "Robert Nozick." Encyclopedia of Global Justice, ed. Deen Chatterjee. Springer, 2011.


  • "Review of Sidney Axinn's Sacrifice and Value: A Kantian Interpretation." Rev. of Sacrifice and Value: A Kantian Interpretation Critique (2017):
  • "Review of Martha Nussbaum's Political Emotions." Rev. of Political EmotionsNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2014): 7.
  • "Review of Elizabeth Ellis Kant's Political Theory: Interpretations and Applications." Rev. of Kant's Political Theory: Interpretations and ApplicationsNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2013):
  • "Review of Carol Hay's Kantianism, Liberalism, and Feminism: Resisting Oppression." Rev. of Kantianism, Liberalism, and Feminism: Resisting OppressionNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews 11.05 (2013): 7.
  • Varden, Helga. Rev. of Kant's Doctrine of Right: A Commentary, by Sharon Byrd and Joachim Hruschka. Jurisprudence (2012):
  • Varden, Helga. "Critical Commentary on Ann Cudd's "Analyzing Oppression"." Rev. of Analyzing OppressionSymposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy (2010):
  • Varden, Helga. "Review of Jan Narveson and James P. Sterba's "Are LIberty and Equality Compatible"." Rev. of Are Liberty and Equality Compatible, by Jan Narveson and James P. Sterba. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2010):
  • Varden, Helga. Rev. of Blackwell Guide to Kant's EthicsEthics 120.4 (2010): 860-864.
  • Varden, Helga. Rev. of Kant's Cosmopolitan Theory of Law and PeaceSymposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy 12.1 (2009): 168-174.
  • Varden, Helga. Rev. of The Kantian Imperative: Humiliation, Common Sense, Politics, by Paul Saurette. University of Toronto Quarterly 76.1 (2007): 305-307.
  • Varden, Helga. Rev. of Kant, by Paul Guyer. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2006):

Research keywords

  • Political and Legal Philosophy, Kant, Feminist Philosophy