Classicism: Jeremy Bentham, Cesare Beccaria And Thomas Hobbes

Better Essays
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

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    I feel this way because there are crimes in this would that if anybody thought of doing that being sentenced to death should cross there mind. The utilitarian theory is a perfect example of how I feel capital punishment should be looked at. I feel this way, because of the reasons behind the theory. Since it is forward-looking and hopes to deter further criminals from committing the same act it shows that the main focus is not the killing itself, but the future criminals who might commit the same act. Anyone can give their own opinion on which theory is morally right, but when it comes down to which theory is best for society utilitarian theory is by far the best.…

    • 817 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Finally, that the main aim of punishment is to deter rather than to avenge the criminal act of the individuals. This is because a legal system, in order to prevent crime, must apply penalties that are deemed fair and equal in order to offset the potential gain that may be derived from criminal activity (Akers 1999, pp.15-20), linking back to the idea of the ‘social contract’. These conventions define the basis of the theory of Classical Criminology. To provide a context for this criminological theory, street crimes refer to crimes that take occurs in a public space that includes both crimes against the person and crimes against property. Violent crimes can be seen as a subset of street crimes in which the offender threatens or applies force against their…

    • 1479 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Since we have established that these offenders are making rational decisions, we should be able to sentence them appropriately, all the while, they understand the consequences for their actions. Secondly, by understanding their actions and theorists understanding why crimes are committed under the rational choice theory, we are better able to analyze reason by the offender for why they choose to do what they do. This helps us better deter crime in the future. “Unlike other approaches, however, which attempt to impose a conceptual unity upon divergent criminal behaviors (by subsuming under more general concepts such as delinquency, deviance, rule breaking, short-run hedonism, criminality, etc. ), our rational choice formulation sees these differences as crucial to the tasks of explanation and control.…

    • 1616 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Deterrence is the Utilitarian approach to punishment and could justify the moral argument for the punishment of offenders. The belief is that there is a certain system that is designed to deter criminal behaviour and that crimes must be dealt with robustly. There are two main types of deterrence, individual and general deterrence. Individual deterrence is concerned with the offender itself in committing criminal acts and the psychological thinking as opposed to general deterrence which is a message aimed at the wider community or public (Scott and Flynn, 2014). Preventing future crimes through punishment was an idea that developed from the respected works of Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham.…

    • 766 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The second component of Immanuel Kant’s retributive theory portrays how one should be prosecuted for committing the crime. When distributing punishment, the “scale of justice” should not be in favor of one party over the other. When one perpetrates evil onto an individual it should be addressed as evil imposed on himself. Therefore, the punishment should be given in equivalence to the crime committed on the basis of an eye for an eye. This concept “assigns both the quality and quantity” of a fair penalty.…

    • 1460 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Due to such practices classical thinking had emerged in response to the cruel forms of punishment that dominated the times in which the approach was towards punishment and crime . Bentham was an English philosopher who as a believer of utilitarianism felt that people had the right to happiness and thus on the basis of this he believed that punishment should be in proportionate to the crime committed. According to him, people are rational creatures who will seek pleasure in order to avoid pain thus the punishment given to such people should be such which would outweigh the pleasure gained by them in committing the crime. He further states that the law makers should not make laws in which the punishment is so harsh and severe that it reduces the greatest happiness. The law should not regulate morality but it should only regulate those acts which are harmful to the society and would reduce the happiness of the…

    • 1466 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Therefore, collectively we view punishment slightly differently. We still may have an emotional response as a citizen, however, courts are supposed to be unemotional and just. Therefore, we as a society are all basically in unity that an acceptable punishment has been delivered to a particular criminal, and none of the characteristics above have been violated, this in itself promotes our unity (Garland, 1993). According to Mead (1918), punishment is in place to first of all make the criminal pay for their actions. Punishment is also in place to deter others who may commit the same offense to be discouraged due to the proportionality of the punishment to the offense.…

    • 944 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Both Rational Choice Theory and Deterrence Theory state that individuals are hedonistic and are deterred from crime through the implementation of certain, swift and severe punishments; and both also discuss the experiential and emboldening effects attributed to the success of crime or the ineffectiveness of the punishment. Rational Choice Theory, however, expands upon Deterrence Theory by including various aspects of sociology and psychology in relation to the decision-making process. These areas of sociology and psychology influence, positively or negatively, the degree of deterrence and the costs versus benefits aspect of decisions. Rational Choice Theory does not view criminal behavior as the result of consistent criminal motivations. Instead, Rational Choice Theory views the desires and motives of offenders and potential offenders as very similar to non-offenders, and it is these desires and motives that are constantly interacting with opportunities and constraints.…

    • 2124 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    A just sentence would examine the characteristics of a crime to determine the culpability of the offender, and maintain the overall harmony of the harmed group of individuals. In another word, the retributivist argument of a just punishment may sound appealing, but it would destroy the balance of the society as it disregards the Equal Protection of the Fourth Amendment. Meanwhile, the consequentialist approach to hate crime may seen to be against the idea of the tough crime policies, but it somehow protects both the offender and the victim by aiming for the long term effect of deterring future hate crimes. Overall, there are pros and cons in regards to both theories and the statutes they coincided with. However, in my opinion, I would want to see statutes to incorporate the concepts from expressive theory of punishment.…

    • 781 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Sociologists (in a concept known as the sociological imagination) understand that an individual’s circumstance strongly influences their behavior (Wiley, Jeanette). Psychologists have proven both that conditioning is a strong method by which to change behavior, and that reinforcement is more effective than punishment ("Changing Behavior Through Reinforcement and Punishment”). As it stands, the meaning of justice is practically synonymous with retribution. Upon the conviction of a criminal, one might say that justice has been served. The American principle of retribution, along with the groups who believe in it, are at odds with those who value humanitarianism.…

    • 1483 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays