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Lecture 9

SOCI-225 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Nazi Eugenics, Leilani Muir, Atavism

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Positive schools: Lombroso
-also known as the Italian school, a school of thought which was wholly scientific and supported the
assumption of positivism. Argued that criminality is determined in a cause and effect sequence
one should search for the causes. With the exception of those born to be criminals, finding the
causes would allow treatment of crime
-positivism: they relied on objective empirical data as opposed to philosophical conjecture
-influenced by Darwinism: some criminals are genetic misfits who were born to break rules and be
-would exhibit less advanced moral and physical traits and dealing with them was a matter
of incapacitating them (ie sterilization, eugenics)
-atavisms: Lombroso believed that some criminals were born criminals, or atavistic; believed
they were in an earlier stage of development and evolution (morally inferior by nature), believed to
be identified in physical characteristics
-those who are lower on the evolutionary scale follow primitive instincts and thus were
prone to savagery
--stigmata: physical signs of moral position. Used to refer to physical signs of a morally
inferior person
-compared non criminals and criminals to isolate differences (but a primitive use of scientific
-postulated two types of criminals: born criminals and occasional criminals butincluded the
following categories later
1)epileptics: had atavistic characteristics 3)criminals of passion, who lack stigmata but have motives
ex love or political power
2)criminal insane: insanity has led to their crimes 4)criminaloids: a catch all term for those who
do not fit any group
-a softening of the biological imperative; accepts somesocial factors
Looso’s eseah does ot stad i the uet epiial tests ad his opaison was
ussteati/slopp e he assued if soeoe as’t i jail the ee ot a iial
-did contribute however that the crime should fit the individual (ie believed crimes of passion were
a one time event, and born criminals are not accountable for their actions). We use his ideas about
individual treatment in our probabtion and parole considerations, as well as mitigating factors.
Biologial theoies, 9’s
-Lombrosos theories attacked and was later concluded there is no physical characteristic that
defines a criminal
Goring found clear links between low iq and criminal behaviour, and attributed it to inherited
inferiorityhowever he believed education could mitigate the deficits (though he still advocated
-Hooten returned to Lombrosos ideas that there are defining physical characteristics, as did Sheldon
who used somatotyping: certain bodily types are attributable to personality (ie found that
mesomorphs (muscular builds) most likely to be criminals)
-fared no better than the others when work was scrutinized
-low intelligence currently linked with some crime; Goddard found conclusions using binet simon iq
test that a mental age of 12 should be the definition of feebleness and found about 70% of prison
population was at or below MA 12.
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