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Carolyn Gordon

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Positivism Focuses on why people commit crimes Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857) - Three stages of evolution - Theological - Metaphysical - Positive What is Positive Criminology? - A Method o Scientific o Cause and effect o Ojective - Paradigm o Framework that shares set of assumptions o Within a paradigm have different theories o 3 strains What are the basic characteristics of Positivism? - Determinism o Hard: they believe that people have no free will o Soft: they believe in conditional free will. They have a constrained free will - Differentiation: the idea that there is something different with people who commit crimes - Focus on actors: very concerned with the actors. Want to know why the crime happened. - Punishment should fit the individual: every person is unique - Offenders can be cured: they can be treated and potentially rehabilitated - Reliance on experts Why did positivism come to dominate? - Classical school did not locate the causes of crime - Crime was increasing - Promise of a solution - No limits on treatment - Could utilize existing institutions - Did not challenge the status quo – does not question power General Problems with Positivist Theories - Over prediction of crime - What about expectations? - Assumption of difference - Are criminal and non-criminals really that different? - Belief in determinism - What about free will? - Ignores criminalization process - Why are certain behaviours illegal and not others? - Belief in a normative consensus Biological Positivism - They believe that criminals are physiologically different and that’s why they commit crimes Phrenology: the belief that our brain is split up into different areas that represent traits. It was believed that a professional could feel bumps in the head and determine that that area is used most Cesare Lombroso (1835 – 1909) - Provided medical services in army and prison - Compared physical characteristics of individuals - Influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution o Social Darwinism o Atavists – The Born Criminal - Share characteristics with prehistoric man - Defective genes – inferior - Live by their indicts - Insensitivity to pain - Closer to a primate - Tends to live by
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