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Crime, punishment and liberty

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This essay considers the relationship between crime, punishment and individual liberty in three main thinkers of the Enlightenment: Montesquieu, Beccaria and Bentham. It examines the development of the idea of a proportion between crime and punishment and challenges the view that the eighteenth-century Enlightenment was engaged in the creation of a new form of oppression through a system of rational punishment which was intended to replace that of the medieval period.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bentham Project, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT.

Publication date: 1999-01-01

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