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“On Crimes and Punishments” by Cesare Beccaria

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Paul B.
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Clearly and succinctly written, ?On Crimes and Punishments? by Cesare Beccaria is a document that outlines in the clearest fashion the delicate balance between justice and mercy, crime and punishment. He takes great pains to describe the distinctions that separate one crime from another and the importance of balance in meting out punishments. This revolutionary work, clearly one of the most important documents in the foundation of several new governmental bodies, outlines the necessity of equality, fairness, and the necessity of a social contract between rational beings, enabling people to live safely together. Beccaria examines in detail the importance of the principles of pleasure vs. pain, justice vs. mercy, and the relationship that exists between the individual and the government.

Becacaria's work became of one of the foundational cornerstones of the new emerging governments of the United States and France. Written in 1764, it incorporates the theories of John Locke and Rousseau influencing the fledgling representative democracy of the United States. Its tenants became the guide the Framers of the Constitution incorporated the protection of the civil liberties of its citizens and the importance of justice for those choosing to live outside the established social order and apart from the tacitly implied social contract.

Believing that a civilized society was created to protect property, namely one's life, freedom, and general estate, John Locke becomes an important resource for Becarria, who expands upon this notion and outlines specifically how those who infringe upon the liberties of others should be punished so that future crime is deterred. Believing that it is better to prevent crimes than to punish them, Beccaria's work clearly outlines many of the ideas that would later become the Bill of Rights used by the United States of America.

[...] Crimes and Punishments? by Cesare Beccaria Clearly and succinctly written, Crimes and Punishments? by Cesare Beccaria is a document that outlines in the clearest fashion the delicate balance between justice and mercy, crime and punishment. He takes great pains to describe the distinctions that separate one crime from another and the importance of balance in meting out punishments. This revolutionary work, clearly one of the most important documents in the foundation of several new governmental bodies, outlines the necessity of equality, fairness, and the necessity of a social contract between rational beings, enabling people to live safely together. [...]


[...] While contemporaries such as Hobbes would argue that social states needed a sovereign, and others such as Rousseau would take a different stance, arguing that the best government is one directly ruled by the people. Rousseau concedes, however, that the people often did not understand and were not capable of knowing what their true will was and would need a leader to act for them until they could handle the responsibility on their own. In these views of leadership and authority, Beccaria finds his own perspective. [...]

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