Test
Download document

BECCARIA, Cesare



Of Crimes and Punishments

…..
For every crime that comes before him, a judge is required to complete a perfect syllogism in which the major premise must be the general law; the minor, the action that conforms or does not conform to the law; and the conclusion, acquittal or punishment. If the judge were constrained, or if he desired to frame even a single additional syllogism, the door would thereby be opened to uncertainty.

…...
It is a considerable point in all good legislation to determine exactly the credibility of witnesses and the proofs of a crime. Every reasonable man, everyone, that is, whose ideas have a certain interconnection and whose feelings accord with those of other men, may be a witness. The true measure of his credibility is nothing other than his interest in telling or not telling the truth; for this reason it is frivolous to insist that women are too weak [to be good witnesses], childish to insist that civil death in a condemned man has the same effects as a real death, and meaningless to insist on the infamy of the infamous, when they have no interest in lying.

…..
When a fixed code of laws, which must be observed to the letter, leaves no further care to the judge than to examine the acts of citizens and to decide whether or not they conform to the law as written; then the standard of the just or the unjust, which is to be the norm of conduct for the ignorant as well as for the philosophic citizen, is not a matter of controversy but of fact; then only are citizens not subject to the petty tyrannies of the many which are the more cruel as the distance between the oppressed and the oppressor is less, and which are far more fatal than those of a single man, for the despotism of many can only be corrected by the despotism of one; the cruelty of a single despot is proportioned, not to his might, but to the obstacles he encounters.

…..
Every punishment which does not arise from absolute necessity, says the great Montesquieu, is tyrannical. A proposition which may be made more general thus: every act of authority of one man over another, for which there is not an absolute necessity, is tyrannical.

…..
If every individual be bound to society, society is equally bound to him, by a contract which from its nature equally binds both parties. This obligation, which descends from the throne to the cottage, and equally binds the highest and lowest of mankind, signifies nothing more than that it is the interest of all, that conventions, which are useful to the greatest number, should be punctually observed. The violation of this compact by any individual is an introduction to anarchy.
…..