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New Meetup: Cesare Beccaria and Enlightened Judicial Reform

From: Alexandra
Sent on: Saturday, October 30, 2010 10:10 AM
Announcing a new Meetup for "Ideas that shaped history" discussion group!

What: Cesare Beccaria and Enlightened Judicial Reform

When: Sunday, November 14,[masked]:30 PM

Where: Laura's residence
949 N. Hill Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91104

In November, we will continue with our ?Era of Enlightenment? series by turning our attention to an influential Enlightenment thinker, Cesare Beccaria, and his book, On Crimes and Punishments (published in 1763).

Cesare Beccaria?s book came on the scene at a time when the Scientific Revolution had profoundly changed the way people looked at the world. The presumptive authority of the past started to lose the power it had enjoyed over people for centuries. Instead of basing their knowledge about the world on tradition, people started to observe nature and its phenomena, to experiment, to gather empirical data and to apply deductive reasoning. The time was ripe to take a critical look at the traditional system of law and to replace it with one based on reason.

In his book, Cesare Beccaria proposed a series of judicial reforms. One of his most important proposals was separating theology from the law and eliminating so-called ?religious crimes?. His other proposals included:

* abolition of torture and the death penalty;
* protection of the rights of the accused
* use of rational rules of evidence;
* reduction of punishment to the minimum necessary to serve as a deterrent.

At our meeting, we will discuss the importance of Beccaria?s ideas for his own time and for our time as well. We can ask many intriguing questions in this regard. For example: how much progress has been made since 1763? Should we just be content about all the changes for the better that have taken place in the last two centuries and congratulate ourselves on being ?enlightened?, or should we take a critical look at the American judicial system and search earnestly for a new Beccaria? This is just one of the questions we can raise ? bring your own ideas to the table!

You are encouraged to come prepared and to research the subject beforehand. (Notice that I said ?encouraged?, not ?required? ? nothing is ?required? in this group. If you just want to attend and learn from others, that?s perfectly fine.)

We are meeting, as usual, on the second Sunday of the month in Laura?s home. If the weather permits, the discussion will be held in the garden.

Kindly bring some food, snack, or beverage to share.

To cover the cost of running this meet-up, a donation of $2 is respectfully requested

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