Utilitarianism and Retributivism in Cesare Beccaria

Mario De Caro
The Italian Law Journal   unpublished
In analyzing Cesare Beccaria's theory of punishment, this article emphasizes that, while he clearly endorsed a proto-utilitarian theory of punishment strongly at odds with positive retributivism, he also accepted some elements of negative retributivism. This fact, however, should not be seen as weakness of Beccaria's view, but as another proof of his genius. As a matter of fact, he acutely understood that a purely utilitarian conception of punishment, not mitigated by negative retributivism,
more » ... indeed generate deep injustices-a lesson that we should remember today, when many scholars interpret the huge amount of data coming from the neurosciences as a proof that a utilitarian theory of punishment recommends itself.