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Criminology 2700 Textbook Chatper 2.docx

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SOC 2700
C Yule

Criminology 2700- Sunday, January 13 2012 Textbook Reading- Chapter 2 Classical Criminology - “Classical” criminology is most often associated with the name of the Italian Cesare Bonesana, marchese de Beccaria (1738- 94). - Beccaria’s work was based on a kind of free- will rationalistic hedonism, a philosophical tradition going back many centuries - Beccaria proposed a simple model of human choice that was based on the rational calculation of cost and benefits o On the basis of this model, he argued that punishments should be portioned to the seriousness of offenses so that the cost of crime always exceeds its reward o Potential offenders then would be deterred- that is, rational calculation would lead them to avoid committing crime o This approach became the basis for all modern criminal justice systems - Today, classicism includes three different but related to strands of theory and research, all of which are strongly related to practical policy recommensttions to reduce crime o 1 focuses on theory and research about the deterrent effect of criminal justice policies o 2 argues that rationally calculating potential offenders responds to opportunities to commit crimes and that these opportunities are systematically related to the “routine activities” by which people live their lives.  The policy recommendations focus on limiting criminal opportunities, rather than increasing the deterrent effect of criminal justice policies o Finally, the “rational choice” approach developed a more complex view of how offenders in particular situations calculate their costs and benefits.  This approach leads to policy recommendations that focus on changing situations in order to influence a potential offender’s calculations The Social and Intellectual Background of Classical Criminology - Classical criminology emerged at a time when the naturalistic approach of the social contract thinkers was challenging the spiritualistic approach that has dominated European thinking for more than a thousand years - This spiritualistic approach formed the basis for criminal justice policies in most of Europe o Classical criminology was a protest against those criminal justice polices and against the spiritual explanations of crime on which they were based - One of the most important sources for these spiritual explanations of crime was found in the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), who lived five hundred years before Beccaria. Aquinas argued that there was a God-given “natural law” that was revealed by observing, through the eyes of faith, people’s natural tendency to do good rather than evil. The criminal law was based on and reflected this “natural law”. People who commit crime (i.e. violate the criminal law) therefore also commit sin (i.e. violate the natural law) - The spiritual explanation of crime, and others like it formed the basis for the criminal justice policies in Europe at the time. Because crime was identified with sin, the state claimed the moral authority to use many horrible and gruesome tortures on criminals. It did so because the state claimed that it was acting in the place of God when it inflicted these horrible punishments on criminals - Beginning with Thomas Hobbes (1588-1678), “social contract” thinkers substituted naturalistic arguments for the spiritualistic arguments of people like Aquinas. While Aquinas argued that people naturally do good rather than evil, Hobbes argued that people naturally pursue their own interests without caring about whether they hurt anyone else. This situation leads to a “war of each against all” in which no one is safe because all people look out only for themselves. - Hobbes then argued that people are rational enough to realize this situation is not good for anyone. So people agree to give up their own selfish behaviour as long as everyone else does the same thing at the same time. This is what hobbes called the “social contract”- something like a peace treaty that everyone agrees to because they are all exhausted from the war of each against all. but the social contract needs an enforcement mechanism in case some people cheat and begin to pursue their own interests without regard to whether other people get hurt. This is the job of the state. According to Hobbes, everyone who agrees to the social contract also agrees to grant the state the right to use force to maintain the contract. - Other social contract philosophers, such as Locke (1632-1704), Montesquieu (1689-1755), Voltaire (1694-1778), and Rousseau (1712-78) followed Hobbes in constructing philosophies that included a natural and rational basis for explaining crime and the state’s response to it. These theories differed for each other in many ways, but all were rational and naturalistic approaches to explaining crime and punishments, as opposed to the dominant spiritualistic approach. By the middle of the 1700s, just before Beccaria wrote his book, these naturalistic ideas were well known and widely accepted by the intellectuals of the day, but they did not represent the thinking of the politically powerful groups that ruled the various states in Europe. Those ruling groups still held to the spiritual explanations of crime, so that crime was seen as manifesting the work of the devil. Con
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