Week 1 Readings
Three Types of Crime Explanation
1. External Factors nature, cosmology, and demonology
Nature = the weather
Cosmology = the moon, demonology
Demonology = deformities (can curse someone)
In previous years (thousands of years ago) people believed that some people
control over external forces = made it rain in one area and not the other,
the moon with the wave of a hand, and children being born with down
2. Internal Factors internal causes are things like biological characteristics –
genetic make-up of
people. Some internal causes also include illness and
3. Group Association is not based off of external forces or internal causes, but the
forces = where they grew up (social environment). It looks at
aspects of a criminal. What their mom and dad were like. Were
abused? Did they take drugs? Etc.
One of a kind natural explanations make statements about the relationships
between observable phenomena
Some scientific theories make statements about the relationship between the
certainty or severity of criminal punishments and the volume of criminal behaviours
Because they make statements about the relationships among observable
phenomena, a key characteristic of scientific theories is that they can be falsified
if the observations are inconsistency with the assertions of the theory, then the
theory is falsified
Causation in Scientific Theories
Causation in scientific theories means 4 things
1. Correlation 2. Theoretical rationale
3. Time sequence
4. Absence of spuriousness (inaccuracy)
Correlation = things tend to vary systematically in relation to each other. A negative
correlation is when more of one thing tends to be associated with less of the other.
Correlation, whether positive or negative, is necessary for causation, but correlation
alone is not sufficient for causation
Theoretical Rationale = correlation and theoretical rationale are also not enough to
Time Sequence = if the discipline comes first and the delinquency comes later, then
we would conclude that the discipline causes the delinquency. But if the
delinquency comes first and the discipline comes later, we would conclude that the
delinquency causes the discipline
Absence of Spuriousness = the relationship between delinquent behavior and
parental disciplinary techniques would be spurious.
Examples of Things Previously Seen as Deviant but NOT Anymore
Three Frames of Reference
1. The view that intelligence and rationality are fundamental human characteristics
and are the basis for explaining human behaviour. Humans are said to be capable of
understanding themselves and of acting to promote their own best interests. They
key to progress is said to be intelligent behaviour that is brought about by careful
training and education. (this is the frame of reference of classical criminology
criminologists attempt to design and test a system of punishment that will result in
a minimal occurrence of crime.
2. The view that behavior is determined by factors beyond the individual’s control.
This view implies that humans are not self-determining agents who are free to do as
they wish and as their intelligence directs. Criminologists attempt to identify the
causes of criminal behavior, and today most criminologists take a multiple-factor
approach (there are many factors that can increase or decrease the likelihood of a
person engaging in criminal behavior).
3. The view that the causes of criminal behaviour are essentially similar to the causes
of legal behaviors, so that the search for the causes of crime is ultimately futile.
Criminologists who take this view attempt to explain why some behaviours are
legally defined as criminal while other similar behaviors are not. Theories of the behavior of criminal law suggest that the volume of crime and the characteristics of
criminals are determined primarily by the enactment and enforcement of laws.
Relationship Among the Three Frames of Reference
there is no contradiction between a spiritual approach and the various natural
approaches described earlier
classical criminologists hold the view that crime can be judged in terms of
deliberateness, intent and understanding of right and wrong
positivist criminologists reject the free will of classical criminologists, but within
this frame of reference, some criminologists focus on social factors and largely
ignore biological and psychological factors
neither the classical nor the positivist frames of reference accurately represent
crime as a social phenomnenon
The Classical School of Criminology (1680-1800)
Tied to the enlightenment period
Importance of free will
Role of hedonism (self-interest)
Role of punishment
Utilitarianism (greatest good, for the greatest amount of people)
The enlightenment period was how we think things punishment, laws, etc. Hedonistic
people are motivated in 2 ways = they seek out pleasure, but avoid the pain and
consequences. This means that hedonists are self-interested; they only look out for
themselves. Free will is a very important aspect as to why people commit crimes. The
basis of social contract is that people have to give certain things up to be part of it
(example: you can’t run into a room and yell “fire” = some people may feel unsafe, etc.).
Social contract is a form of relationship (it is a give and take relationship). Something is
given up in return for something else. Social contract is important when we look at the
classical school of criminology.
The role of punishment is what punishment would be most effective. Utilitarianism
argues that the greatest good for the greatest amount of people is important because the
laws, and authority figures, need this view. When they have this view there becomes a
balance in society.
Week Two Readings
Chapter Two – Classical Criminology
Today classicism includes 3 different but related strands of theory and research, all of
which are related to practical policy recommendations to reduce crime. The Social and Intellectual Background of Classical Criminology
Classical criminology was a protest against the spiritual explanations of crime in
which the criminal justice policies were then based upon
One of the first “social contract” thinkers, Thomas Hobbes, substituted
naturalistic arguments for the spiritualistic arguments.
o He argued that people naturally pursue their own interests without caring
about whether they hurt anyone else. (“war of each against all”; people
only look out for themselves).
o He then argued that people are rational enough to know this method is
good for no one, so people agree to give up own selfish behaviour as
long as everyone else does, he called this the “social contract”.
o Social contract needs an enforcement mechanism (the state) in case
some people cheat, therefore everyone who agrees to the contract also
agrees to let the state use force to maintain the contract.
Other social contract philosophers, such as Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and
Rousseau followed Hobbes in constructing philosophies that included a natural
and rational basis for explaining crime.
Beccaria and the Classical School
Classical criminology most often associated with Beccaria.
His work was based on a free-will rationalistic hedonism
Proposed a model of human choice that was based on the rational calculation of
costs and benefits (punishments should be proportionate to the seriousness of
offenses so that the cost of crime always exceeds its reward, therefore deters
people from committing crime).
This model became the basis for all modern criminal justice systems.
He proposed reforms to make criminal justice practice more logical and rational.
His ideas to make the criminal justice system both just and effective include:
1. The role of the legislatures should be to define crimes and to define specific