In ‘On the Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy’, Kant defends a position that cannot be salvaged. The essay is nonetheless important because it helps us understand his philosophy of law and, more specifically, his interpretation of the social contract. Kant considers truthfulness a strict legal duty because it is the necessary condition for the juridical state. As attested by Kant’s rejection of Beccaria’s arguments against the death penalty, not even the right to life has such strict unconditional status. Within the juridical state, established by the social contract, the (single) innate right to freedom is transformed into a bundle of merely positive rights, including the right to life. Understanding the reason for the rejection of ‘the right to lie from philanthropy’ thus helps us understand the, in a sense, ‘positivist’ character of Kant’s legal philosophy. In conclusion, some suggestions are made to bring his position closer to our common moral understanding.