The Influence Of Beccaria And Voltaire.

1604 words - 6 pages

Today in society, concepts are hardly ever in their original form. It is extremely rare for anything to be in prototype form. Most ideas are based upon prior thoughts and beliefs. Even documents that our society is based upon have been derived from the philosophies of former innovative thinkers. Through their own new and radical philosophies, philosophers such as Beccaria and Voltaire from the Enlightenment period influenced society's and government's future ideas and principles. By writing numerous books and essays, these philosophers were able to become the foundation of many important freedoms and principles.Cesare Beccaria is most well known for his essay On Crimes and Punishments. Within this essay, Beccaria explained his philosophy of the need to punish. This philosophy impacted our society, specifically in The Bill of Rights. Beccaria has also been recognized for his views upon the death penalty. This influenced the movement to abolish the death penalty.In On Crimes and Punishments, Beccaria writes, "Thus it was necessity that forced men to give up apart of their liberty. It is certain, then, that every individual would choose to put into the public stock the smallest portion possible, as much only as was sufficient to engage others to defend it. The aggregate of these, the smallest portions possible, forms the right of punishing; all that extends beyond this, is abuse, not justice. Observe that by justice I understand nothing more than that bond which is necessary to keep the interest of individuals united, without which men would return to their original state of barbarity. All punishments which exceed the necessity of preserving this bond are in their nature unjust" (8). Here, Beccaria is basically saying that punishment should be used to the smallest extent possible. Punishment is necessary to keep man in line, letting him be aware that there are consequences for doing something against the law. However, punishing beyond what is necessary is cruel and unjust and there is no purpose to it.In The Bill of Rights, Amendment VIII states, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted" ("Constitution of the United States" 798). This amendment clearly states that no unjust actions such as excessive bail, fines or cruel and unusual punishment will be used upon anyone. This, being guaranteed in the United States' Constitution, ensures that everyone will be protected. Beccaria wrote argued that there was no need for unnecessary punishment. The writers of the Constitution took note of his efforts and philosophy, and decided to incorporate it within our laws; therefore, Amendment VIII was truly influenced by Beccaria.Beccaria was also recognized as being against the death penalty. "In giving man the example of cruelty, the death penalty is for society one more evil.... The death penalty is not a right but a war of the state against the citizen" ("Declaration of the Consortium...

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