Hardly More Enlightened

Modern 500-Year-Old Ideas on Unemployment, Crime & Punishment

Punishment for crime was harsher in earlier times than it is today. In early modern England, simple theft, i.e., theft without violence, frequently incurred the death penalty. Most of us today count it an advance in civilization that we no longer put thieves to death. And for this and other ameliorations of criminal law, we often credit Enlightenment thinkers such as Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham. But was the rethinking of crime and punishment wholly a project of the Enlightenment? Do no earlier thinkers deserve credit?

In a certain old book—to be identified later—we find this passage:

[The lawyer] began diligently and earnestly to praise that strait and...


received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He writes on education, politics, religion, and culture.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #37, Summer 2016 Copyright © 2024 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo37/hardly-more-enlightened


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