On Crimes and Punishments  book cover
5th Edition

On Crimes and Punishments

ISBN 9781412864022
Published November 30, 2016 by Routledge
222 Pages

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Book Description

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.


Table of Contents


Introduction to the Treatise

A Note on the Text

Biographical Note

On Crimes and Punishments

To the Reader

I The Origin of Punishments
II The Right to Punish
III Implications So Far
IV The Interpretation of Laws
V The Obscurity of the Laws
VI The Proportion between Crime and Punishment
VII Errors in the Measurement of Crime
VIII The Classification of Crimes
IX Honour
X Duels
XI Disturbing the Peace
XII The Purpose of Punishment
XIII On Witnesses
XIV Evidence and Forms of Judgment
XV Secret Accusations
XVI Torture
XVII Revenue Authorities
XIX Prompt Punishment
XX Violent Crimes
XXI Punishing Nobles
XXII Theft
XXIII Public Condemnation
XXIV Political Indolence
XXV Banishment and Confiscation

The Historiography of Psychoanalysis
XXVI On the Spirit of the Family
XXVII The Mildness of Punishments
XXVIII The Punishment of Death
XXIX Preventive Detention
XXX Criminal Proceedings and the Statute of Limitations
XXXI Crimes Difficult to Prove
XXXII Suicide
XXXIII Smuggling
XXXIV Debtors
XXXV Sanctuaries
XXXVI Bounties
XXXVII Attempts, Accomplices, Pardons
XXXVIII Suggestive Interrogations, Depositions
XXXIX On a Particular Kind of Crime
XL False Ideas of Utility
XLI How to Prevent Crimes
XLII On the Sciences
XLIII Judges
XLIV Rewards
XLV Education
XLVI On Pardons
XLVII Conclusion



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