On Crimes and Punishments

Transaction Publishers
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Cesare Beccaria’s influential Treatise on Crimes and Punishments is considered a foundational work in the field of criminology. Three major themes of the Enlightenment run through the Treatise: the idea that the social contract forms the moral and political basis of the work’s reformist zeal; the idea that science supports a dispassionate and reasoned appeal for reforms; and the belief that progress is inextricably bound to science. All three provide the foundation for accepting Beccaria’s proposals. It is virtually impossible to ascertain which of several versions of the Treatise that appeared during his lifetime best reflected Beccaria’s thoughts. His use of many Enlightenment ideas also makes it difficult to interpret what he has written. While Enlightenment thinkers advocated free men and free minds, there was considerable disagreement as to how this might be achieved, except in the most general terms. The editors have based this translation on the 1984 Francioni text, the most exhaustive critical Italian edition of Dei delitti e delle pene. This edition is the last that Beccaria personally oversaw and revised. This translation includes an outstanding opening essay by the editors and is a welcome introduction to Beccaria and the beginnings of criminology.
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About the author

Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) was an Italian philosopher and politician. He is known as one of the founders of modern criminology and penology. In his lifetime he was made chair of law and economy at Palatine College, became a member of the supreme economic council and was elected to the board for the reform of the judicial code all in Milan.

Graeme Newman is distinguished teaching professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York-Albany, and was a consult for the Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention Division of the United Nations. He is the author or editor of many books, including Super Highway Robbery, The Global Report on Crime and Justice, and Rational Choice and Situational Crime Prevention.

Pietro Marongiu is associate professor of criminology in the School of Medicine, University of Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy. He is the author of Theory and History of Social Banditry in Sardinia.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Transaction Publishers
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Published on
Oct 31, 2016
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Pages
193
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ISBN
9781412815581
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Policy
Social Science / Criminology
Social Science / Penology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Cesare Beccaria
Published in 1764, On Crimes and Punishments by Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794) courted both success and controversy in Europe and North America. Enlightenment luminaries and enlightened monarchs alike lauded the text and looked to it for ideas that might help guide the various reform projects of the day. The equality of every citizen before the law, the right to a fair trial, the abolition of the death penalty, the elimination of the use of torture in criminal interrogations—these are but a few of the vital arguments articulated by Beccaria.

This volume offers a new English translation of On Crimes and Punishment alongside writings by a number of Beccaria’s contemporaries. Of particular interest is Voltaire’s commentary on the text, which is included in its entirety. The supplementary materials testify not only to the power and significance of Beccaria’s ideas, but to the controversial reception of his book. At the same time that philosophes proclaimed that it contained principles of enduring importance to any society grappling with matters of political and criminal justice, allies of the ancien régime roundly denounced it, fearing that the book’s attack on feudal privileges and its call to separate law from religion (and thus crime from sin) would undermine their longstanding privileges and powers.

Long appreciated as a foundational text in criminology, Beccaria’s arguments have become central in debates over capital punishment. This new edition presents Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishments as an important and influential work of Enlightenment political theory.

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