Law and Critique 27 (2):151-169 (2016)

Michael Naas
DePaul University
During his 2000–2001 seminar on the death penalty, Jacques Derrida argues that Kant is the most ‘rigorous’ philosophical proponent of the death penalty and, thus, the thinker who poses the most serious objections to the kind of philosophical abolitionism that Derrida is trying to develop in his seminar. For Kant, the death penalty is the logical result of the fundamental principle of criminal law, namely, talionic law or the right of retaliation as a principle of pure, disinterested reason. In this paper, I demonstrate how Derrida attempts to undermine Kant’s defence of the death penalty by demonstrating both its internal contradictions and its strange affinities with the law of primitive peoples. I argue that Derrida’s repeated returns throughout the seminar to Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals suggest that Kant’s seemingly rational defence of the death penalty is ultimately motivated by interests that belie the supposed disinterestedness of modern law and by a notion of natural justice that at once subtends and subverts all criminal law.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10978-016-9182-3
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,827
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Revisiting Plato’s Pharmacy.Jacques de Ville - 2010 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 23 (3):315-338.
Derrida.Christopher Norris - 1987 - Harvard University Press.
Kant's Theory of Punishment.Thom Brooks - 2003 - Utilitas 15 (2):206.
Historical Undecidability: The Kantian Background to Derrida’s Politics.Alison Ross - 2004 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12 (4):375 – 393.
Real Dreams.Elissa Marder - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (S1):196-213.


Added to PP index

Total views
6 ( #1,083,403 of 2,432,741 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #464,418 of 2,432,741 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes