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York University
CRIM 2650
Anita Lam

Lecture 2 On TheoryWhat is theoryDictionary definitionsa guess based on limited amount of knowledgeabstract knowledge or reasoningset of principles used to explain a group of facts or phenomenatheatreWhat does theory mean in criminologyNo singular approach to crime criminology is an interdisciplinary study3 approaches to theory 1 Scientific theory DescriptivePredictiveCriminology as social science modelled on physical sciencesReduce phenomenon to variables and measure correlation between variablesGeneralizabilityPredictabilityEx Studying crimepovertygather stats on variables measure correlations povertyincreased CR generalize predict currentfuture behaviourFormal definition of crimemala prohibitaQ What is X How does X work Why does X work that way 2 Normative theory PrespectiveCriminology as an ethical and legal enterprisehow things ought to workValuesethicspart of policy makingQ How should X worktakes the form of an argumentGoal change criminal justice systemCan creep into scientific theory and critical theory 3 Critical theoryThe implications and conditions of doing criminologyInterested in studying criminology critiqueinquire knowledgeQ What are the historical material economic or sociopolitical conditions that gave rise to X What makes X possibleInterested in the present how did we get hereEvaluating TheoryScientific theory Normative theory Critical theory Facts Values Conditions of possibility Empirical validity XX Testability X Logical consistency X X X Usefulness and policy X XimplicationsTerrie Moffitt AdolescenceLimited and LifeCourse Persistent Offenders ExampleAs scientific theoryThe aging out of crime empiricalNormative theory Policy Implications for lifecourse persistent offendersWhat should we do with lifecourseCritical theoryAdolescenceLaw and order ideologytough on crime Theory and ContextTheory changes with changes in social contextThe public and academics both have crime theories that are influenced by life experiences that shape the way they thinkOur thinking about crime has been conditioned by our social experiencesThe disconnect between academic criminology and policycultureHarpers Safe Streets and Communities ActLaw and order ideology as a position to govern public fearsStatistical disconnect between perceptions of crime and actual levels of crime Context for reading Beccaria st 1 theory on penal law on crimespunishmentPunishment was based more on physical than prison sentencesPresumed guilty burden of proof on the offenderTorture to confession Lecture 3 Beccaria and Classical CriminologyContext The EnlightenmentPostEnlightenment societyKnowledge from church text and classical textUniversal truthprogress considered to be universal to any theories proposed could be used anywhere in the worldKnowledge from new discoveries inventions and explorationsknowledge thus used for the betterment of societyImmanuel Kant What is EnlightenmentTo be free of the state of being tutoredto think for the self and not like our tutorsThe Light of Reason th Reason in the 18 centuryEnlightenment and selfimprovementPhilosophybased on reason to combat biasScienceempirical validationLight metaphorically represents reasonRhetoric and Symbolism during the EnlightenmentBinary opposites ReasonPassion LightDarkness GoodEvilLight of Reason vs Darkness of PassionDarkness clouds the light of reasonSpiritualism absolute good vs absolute evilCrimesin possessed by evil demon and therefore morally badFear of Godpossessed by evil demons thus fear gods punishment turn to god for the cure blame the devil imprisoned to feel sorry for their sinsTrial by ordealbattleGod will save the innocent crimes now a public matterEnlightenment as time of increasing secularization shift form control by religion to control by the stateReason vs Ignorance Order vs DisorderIgnorance associated with superstition tradition barbaric customs and prejudiceEx Evil demonsEg Judicial discretion and sentencing disparityprejudice when ruled on the basis of passion the same crime with different sentences should not happenReasonand thus lawtakes the form of consistencyReason brings consistent outcomesMinnesota sentencing guidelines and gridAn example of sentencing without disparity severity of crimecriminal recordHumane reason vs Cruel passionHumanitarianismScientists were viewed as reasonable but coldHumane punishmentFactsvalues worked handinhand rational actions and humane actionsState cannot be cruel to its citizens because it could lead to the brutalization effect where people are desensitized state punishment only legitimizes vengeance for misdeeds and leads people to imitate the state which ultimately leads to increased violenceRational Actor criminal as calculatorA criminal is a person who is capable of calculating what heshe wants to do guided by calculations in relationship to hedonismChoose how to act by weighing pain against pleasurePunish the offense and not the social or physical characteristics of the criminalequality before the lawRational choice theoryCostbenefitno room for emotionhumanitarianismLet us consult the human heart and there we shall find the foundation of the sovereigns right to punish for no advantage in moral policy can be lasting which is not founded on the indelible sentiments of the heart of man Social Contract TheoryHumans were freeindependent people who looked out for ourselves but this also meant we lived in a continuous state of insecurity or a state of war Thus we surrender our
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