Feuerbach, Paul Johann Anselm von

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Paul Johann Anselm von Feuerbach (poul yō´hän än´zĕlm foi´ərbäkh), 1775–1833, German jurist; father of Ludwig Feuerbach. His work was in the field of criminal law. In Kritik des natürlichen Rechts [critique of natural law] (1796) he argued that law was the positive mandate of the state and was not to be confused with natural morality. His Revision der Grundsätze und Grundbegriffe des positiven peinlichen Rechts [revision of the principles and rules of positive criminal law] (1799) ascribed a dual role to the penal law: it should protect society by deterring crime through the threat of finely adjusted penalties and should protect individual liberties by punishing only those crimes that had been exactly defined by statute. Feuerbach's writings earned him teaching positions at the universities of Jena (1799), Kiel (1802), and Landshut (1804), and in 1805 he joined the ministry of justice of Bavaria with the task of preparing a criminal code. He secured the abolition of torture in Bavaria in 1806. The liberal criminal code that he drafted (1813) had an important influence throughout Germany and was adopted by several German states and Swiss cantons. Feuerbach served as an appellate judge from 1814 to his death. Besides his systematic treatises he wrote vivid psychological studies, including Narratives of Remarkable Criminal Trials (1828–29, tr. 1846).

See his Wolf Children and Feral Man tr. by J. A. Singh (1942, repr. 1966).