Jennifer K. Uleman
Purchase College, State University of New York
This paper takes up Kant's argument that infanticides - specifically unwed women who kill their illegitimate children at birth - should not be tried for murder or receive the death penalty. Kant suggests that their actions are committed in a 'state of nature' outside the law's jurisdiction. I aim here both to defend Kant's reasoning against charges that it is cruel , as well as to understand what Kant was thinking in introducing such a 'temporary' state of nature. I claim that such a state of nature arises in Kant's thinking when powerful social norms conflict with legal requirements, rendering legal sanctions and protections moot for the actor. Kant's thinking here shows him struggling with the fact of powerful social norms, something his practical theory rarely does, focused as it is on practical laws that come from pure reason, or from self-interest, and not from the hybrid of rational and natural, moral and 'sensuous,' that is social life. Kant ultimately rejects 'temporary state of nature' exemptions from law, and instead urges legal reforms aimed at averting conflicts between social and legal norms
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The Bloomsbury Companion to Kant.Dennis Schulting (ed.) - 2015 - Bloomsbury Academic.

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