17th Century Torture Essay

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that the individual had committed. Overtime, public torture began to be marked by celebrations and huge crowds. The number of women who were considered as the most delicate of the human species, began to grow in leaps and bounds. The act had lost its initial ‘shock factor’. The feeling of fear that was supposed to prevent future crimes was lost. The collective reverence of the human body especially under religion, began to ebb away due to overexposure to these public executions. This attitude began to change in the second half of the 17th century. Philosophical Debate Regarding the use of Torture According to Lyn Hunt, Author of ‘Inventing Human Rights’, once debates and arguments against torture and cruel punishment began to be commonplace,…show more content…
The most notable case of torture that prompted this new wave was that of Jean Calas, a man who was sentenced to ‘breaking on wheel’ for allegedly murdering his son. The French Philosopher, Francois- Marie Arouet, commonly known as Voltaire championed the campaign against this sentence by writing ‘the treatise on tolerance on the occasion of the death of Jean Calas.’ In this letter, he argued against religious intolerance but not against torture. He stated that “it is in the interest of mankind to examine whether the true religious spirit is more consistent with charity or with cruelty” (Voltaire, Masters, & Harvey, 2004). However, over time Voltaire began to publicly condemn Torture and a new wave of intellectual debates began. The Italian Philosopher, Cesar Beccaria, in his essay on crimes and punishment, limited criminal punishment to “what is absolutely necessary to defend the public wellbeing” (Harcourt, 2013). Beccaria opposed torture and punishment that was carried out in private. He opined that privacy made punishments lose their deterrent value. William Blackstone, following in Beccaria’s footsteps, made a resounding statement that has transcended its time. He states that criminal should always be "conformable to the dictates of truth and justice, the feelings of humanity, and the indelible rights of mankind." (Hunt,

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