Beccaria, Cesare Bonesana, marchese di

Beccaria, Cesare Bonesana, marchese di chĕˈzärā bōnāzäˈnä märkāˈzā dē bĕk-kärēˈä [key], 1738–94, Italian criminologist, economist, and jurist, b. Milan. Although of a retiring disposition, he held, in the Austrian government, several public offices, the highest being counselor of state. Through these and through his writings he influenced local economic reforms and stimulated penal reform throughout Europe. As a young man he published (1764) his famous Essay on Crimes and Punishments (tr. 1767; 2d American ed. 1819, repr. 1953). The book, widely acclaimed in Western Europe, was one of the first arguments against capital punishment and inhuman treatment of criminals. His ideas especially influenced Jeremy Bentham and the utilitarians. He made original contributions to economic theory, applying mathematics to economics, analyzing population problems, and anticipating the wage and labor theories of Adam Smith. Much of this work appears in Elementi di economia publica (1804), a posthumous collection of his lectures (1768–70) in political economy at Milan.

See M. Maestro, Caesare Beccaria and the Origins of Penal Reform (1973).

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