Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 7-1-1996


This article centers on the influences of the Enlightenment through Voltaire on both the framers of American law and on the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Before discussing the weight of Voltaire's influence on the law makers in the early republic, it is first important to envision a general picture of both Enlightenment philosophy and the experiences of Voltaire in Eighteenth Century France. Therefore, in Part I, this paper examines Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Enlightenment philosophy on criminal punishment, as well as the philosophy of Voltaire. Part II addresses a similar exploration of the impact of this philosophy on the writers of American law. This influence is examined in a three-tiered approach, analyzing the impact of Voltaire on the framers of the Constitution, the laws of the colonies, and on society in general.

Publication Title

Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review



First Page


Included in

Law Commons



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