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Abstract

In the Doctrine of Right, Kant claims that killings motivated by the fear of disgrace should be punished less severely than other murders. I consider how Kant understands the mitigating force of such motives, and argue that Kant takes agents to have a moral right to defend their honour. Unlike other rights, however, this right of honour can only be defended personally, so that individuals remain in a ‘state of nature’ with regard to any such rights, regardless of their political situation. According to Kant, we should be lenient in these cases because the malefactors are caught between two kinds of authentic normative demand, at a point where the proper authority of the state collides with a certain authority which individuals must claim for themselves.