The Italian Law Journal | ItaLJ


‘Public Enemy’?
Difficulties in Rousseau’s Theory of Punishment

by Francesco Toto

This article focuses on references to the issue of punishment disseminated in the Social Contract. Through the analysis and contextualization of these references, it aims primarily to frame Rousseau’s theory of punishment within the broader context of his political theory. It focuses in particular on the apparent tension between conceiving the criminal as a citizen on the one hand, and as a public enemy, external to the State and to the legal guarantees reserved to its members, on the other. Finally, it attempts to highlight the underlying coherence of Rousseau’s discussion by showing that not just any criminal is a ‘public enemy’, but only the political criminal, that is, the usurper or the despot.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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