Classicism: Jeremy Bentham, Cesare Beccaria And Thomas Hobbes

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Classicism was formed when the enlightenment arose and was an innovative response to what was seen as harsh juridical processes at the time. Key figures included: Jeremy Bentham, Cesare Beccaria and Thomas Hobbes. Main concepts included that humans are rational creatures with free will therefore crime can be prevented by punishment. Punishment was used to better the society as it would serve as a deterrent to commit crime. It was expressed to be most effective when punishments were swiftly and certainly inflicted, with the severity being proportionate to the crime. Despite the reasons behind classicism, positivists opposed the ideas formed. Positivists argued that biological, psychological and environmental factors influence an individual’s …show more content…
All believed in the principle of rationality and that human’s act upon self-interest. Thus meaning they weigh up the costs and therefore deterrents should be created to outweigh what would be gained from the crime. For example the death penalty viewed by classical thinkers such as Beccaria and Bentham is seen as pointless as there is no deterrent (Brown, S. E., 2010). They gave an alternative perspective to the spiritualistic view that had dominated the European justice system centuries beforehand (Vold, G. B. et al., 1998;). This view was justified through the theory that people who commit a crime, commit a sin against God. The state used this theory to apply extensive torture on criminals, as the state claimed it was acting on behalf of God (Paternoster, R. et al., 1985). Deterrence was an important feature expressed among Jeremy Bentham, Cesare Beccaria and Thomas Hobbes. A concept of Thomas Hobbes is the social contract where rational people agree not to pursue their selfish desires to maintain harmony as long as it is equally applied to everyone (Rachels, J. et al., 2007). This was to be enforced by the state in order to prevent conflict that may arise through the natural self-concerned tendencies. Thomas Hobbes stated that crime could still occur and that the benefit of committing a crime should be outdone by the punishment. This would be applied as a form of deterrence. (Onwudiwe, I. et al., 2005). “It is better to prevent crime than to punish it” (Beccaria, 1764/1963:93). Cesare Beccaria trusted punishments should be consistent and proportionate to the crime. He also believed that punishments are unjust when their severity exceeds what is necessary to achieve deterrence. Additionally the severity, swiftness and certainty of punishment was a key aspect to Cesare Beccaria in recidivism and controlling crime (O 'Brien, M. et al., 2008). Cesare

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