Filangieri, Gaetano

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Filangieri, Gaetano (1752-1788): Italian Jurist.

Influenced by Genovesi, Antonio, Gaetano Filangieri was the intellectual leader of the succeeding generation of enlightened thinkers in Naples. Filangieri was born of a distinguished Neapolitan family and entered law in 1774. In 1774, he published his first book, Political Reflections, in which he argued for the reform of the legal structure.

In 1780, he began the publication of his most famous work, The Science of Legislation, which was issued in several volumes. Falling within the natural law tradition, Filangieri sought to turn legislation into a science aiming for its end at security with equality before the law. According to Filangieri, laws must be both just and suitable to the conditions of time and place. This led him to advocate the removal of barriers to commerce and the promotion of industry along with an equitable distribution of wealth. He proposed the establishment of a national system of public education, freedom of the press, and the creation of a national guard. In the legal sphere, he advocated legal reforms that included the abolition of torture. Despite his support of Christianity as critical means of promoting virtue, his book was condemned by the Inquisition.

Further Reading:

Owen Chadwick, “The Enlightenment in Italy,” in Enlightenment in National Context, Roy Porter and Mikǔlas Teich, eds.,

Kevin E. Dodson

Lamar University