The economist and the enlightenment: how Cesare Beccaria changed Western civilization



This Article traces the influence of Cesare Beccaria’s writings on Western civilization. It explores the global impact of Beccaria’s 1764 book, Dei delitti e delle pene, later translated into English as An Essay on Crimes and Punishments. In particular, the Article highlights Beccaria’s advocacy for proportion between crimes and punishments and against the death penalty. The Article gives a short sketch of Beccaria’s life and describes the impact of Beccaria’s book and his legacy in shaping the world’s laws. The Article further describes how Beccaria’s role as an influential eighteenth-century economist has been neglected by some economic historians.


Cesare Beccaria Dei delitti e delle pene On Crimes and Punishments Enlightenment Death penalty Proportionality 

JEL Classification

B12 D63 K4 K14 K42 N00 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Baltimore School of LawBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Georgetown University Law CenterWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Berens & Miller, P.A.MinneapolisUSA

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