From an excellent New Yorker article on the history of dueling:

Whatever else ‚Äúhonor‚Äù may be, it is the knowledge that every impertinence carries with it the seed of a greater, more fundamental insult: the suggestion that a person can get away with it—which is, after all, where humiliation really begins. Somewhere in our molecular makeup a sword-bearing protein squalls to have its day. But that doesn‚Äôt mean we have to listen… Ultimately, the duel was sustained not by a failure of communication but by a failure of imagination.