Cesare Beccaria Quotes (displaying: 1 - 6 of 6 quotes)
It is a considerable point in all good legislation to determine exactly the credibility of witnesses and the proofs of a crime. Every reasonable man, everyone, that is, whose ideas have a certain interconnection and whose feelings accord with those of other men, may be a witness. The true measure of his credibility is nothing other than his interest in telling or not telling the truth; for this reason it is frivolous to insist that women are too weak [to be good witnesses], childish to insist that civil death in a condemned man has the same effects as a real death, and meaningless to insist on the infamy of the infamous, when they have no interest in lying.
For every crime that comes before him, a judge is required to complete a perfect syllogism in which the major premise must be the general law; the minor, the action that conforms or does not conform to the law; and the conclusion, acquittal or punishment. If the judge were constrained, or if he desired to frame even a single additional syllogism, the door would thereby be opened to uncertainty.
When a fixed code of laws, which must be observed to the letter, leaves no further care to the judge than to examine the acts of citizens and to decide whether or not they conform to the law as written; then the standard of the just or the unjust, which is to be the norm of conduct for the ignorant as well as for the philosophic citizen, is not a matter of controversy but of fact; then only are citizens not subject to the petty tyrannies of the many which are the more cruel as the distance between the oppressed and the oppressor is less, and which are far more fatal than those of a single man, for the despotism of many can only be corrected by the despotism of one; the cruelty of a single despot is proportioned, not to his might, but to the obstacles he encounters.
False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that it has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are of such a nature. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.