Summary : On Crimes And Punishments

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Ingrid Nin “Licentious”. “Ill-directed”. “Barbarity”. These are only some of the words used by Enlightenment philosophe, Cesare Beccaria, to describe the manner in which the Old Regime handled the criminal justice system in his book, On Crimes and Punishments. As a proponent for enlightenment thinking, Beccaria published the text to “diffuse the knowledge of… philosophical truths” (), like many philosophes did during the Age of Reason. He believed that through this “rational beings” would rise up and allow the “irregularity of proceedings in criminal cases… [that have been] so much neglected throughout Europe” () to be call upon and criticized. For example, how the criminal case of a regular citizen would be treated completely different compared to that of a noble, due to his status in society. Not only that, but he also wanted to bring attention to the inhumanity that were the punishments that came along with all convictions that went through the Old Regime, such as torture and the death penalty. Overall, Beccaria believed that as an enlightenment thinker, he had the responsibility to expose the Old Regime for the good of society as a whole, and his critiques not only had an impact on the Regime, but on modern day society as well. The Old Regime was split up into three groups: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners, who represented the majority of the population. According to Beccaria, “The laws… are the only sum of the smallest portions of the private liberty of
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